Witch house, horror house, gothy trance—dance music has always flirted with the occult, UFOs, and all sorts of ghoulish goodness. So as we head deeper into October and roll out a ton of fun Halloween stuff to anticipate the glut of events about to pile up at the month’s end, we’re spine-tinglingly pleased to share with you Beatport’s top 10 scariest dance tracks ever recorded.
10. Salem – “Trapdoor”
The witch-house thing was already in full swing by the time Salem dropped their debut LP, King Night (admittedly, they led that poorly named charge with a couple singles and EPs). But when “Trapdoor” was released, it took the trope to a whole new level, with pitched-down, filtered rap vocals that sounded like they came forth from a growling animal. And if you think about it, the vocals on this track are a Halloween costume of epic proportions—cuz Salem’s “singer” is actually one scrawny, long-haired white dude.
9. Third Eye Foundation – “Corpses As Bedmates”
Matt Elliott had made his fair share of dark and folksy recordings before he started Third Eye Foundation, with which he let loose one eerie-as-hell 1997 LP, the aptly titled Ghost. Ghastly tunes these were indeed, with “Corpses As Bedmates” taking in all sorts of breaksy influences and creating something freakishly electronic and otherworldly.
8. Soggy Plop – “Hairy Scary (Get Sucked Remix)”
It’s hard not to drop in a few tracks that sample classic horror films—and this one features those creepy girls from The Shining. Listen to the break from about 4:07. Proper horror house.
7. Fanu – “Poltergeist”
The Amen break lends itself nicely to dark and menacing tracks, but when paired with samples from the film Poltergeist, it’s rendered something altogether freakier.
6. The Prodigy – “Firestarter”
“Firestarter” was a bit of a game-changer for electronic music—not only did it bring the at-the-time rather obscure breakbeat hardcore sound to the masses, but it was also a call to arms to suburban kids to just go crazy, start raving, and either burn things or get really into Stephen King novels. Either way, by the time Keith Flint’s not-for-TV mug was showing up all over MTV and the like, The Prodigy’s breakout hit promised to be a recurring nightmare for parents everywhere.
5. Zebra Katz – “Ima Read (ft. Njena Reddd Foxxx)”
With a subdued bump and lyrics like “I’ma chop that bitch/I’ma slice that bitch,” Zebra Katz’s relatively recent entry on this list sounds like a minimalist Natas or ICP at work. But without having to go the goofy route of the Dark Carnival, “Ima Read” is scary on totally different terms.
4. Gatekeeper – “Serpent”
Like those other purveyors of the oft-maligned witch-house genre, Gatekeeper manage to do a fine job of keeping things equally danceable and creepy. “Serpent” takes influence from all the best horror soundtracks out there—listen for references to both Goblin’s Suspiria soundtrack and Mike Oldfield’s “Tubular Bells.” Then wrap it all up in a Thunder Horse Video clip, and you’ve got one serious Halloween jam. I mean, it’s a bubbling cauldron with a crystal ball in it, for god’s sake!
3. Boogie Times Tribe – “The Dark Stranger”
The proto-jungle darskide genre burned bright and short with a paranoia-inducing blend of atonal melodies, crunchy bass rolls, and a terrifying array of horror-movie samples. But the scariest track of that era is indisputably Boogie Times Tribe’s “The Dark Stranger,” in which every aspect of the song seems chosen for optimal squirm. Suburban Base founder Dan Donnelly and breakbeat hero Jay D’Cruze created a sordid stew of flanged breaks, maniacal laughs, just-audible ham-radio tunings, and one hell of a scream.
2. Rasmus Hedegaard – “Scary Christmas”
Could we really put this list together without including at least one dubstep track? Not bloody likely. And could we even dream of including a dubstep track that doesn’t fuck with the sanctity of Santa Claus? Also, no. Merging both of those things is Rasmus Hedegaard’s downright odd “Scary Christmas,” which kicks off momentarily with “Jingle Bells”-y vibes and then goes full-throttle into screech and wobble, all while its synths keep chiming along to a recognizable Christmas riff.
1. Aphex Twin – “Come to Daddy”
Let’s just get it out there — it is impossible to talk about Richard James’ paean to electronic noise without including the video. For all intents and purposes, they are one thing. One scary, twisted, terrifying thing that assaults your eyes and ears and oh, dear god, why won’t it stop!
On the creepily titled “Come to Daddy”, Aphex Twin and director Chis Cunningham merge abrasive (abusive) breaks, unexpected primal screams and an army of hooligan Mini-James for the ultimate electronic fright fest. Blast this on your front porch this Halloween and you won’t even have to buy candy.
So there you have it. The Top 10 scariest dance tracks of all time. If you think we’ve missed something, put it in the comments below and we can debate it for the rest of the month.
Celebrate Halloween with us all month long at halloween.beatport.com. Reach into our treat bag of scary tracks, spooked-out sample packs, and specially selected charts and mixes to get you in the spirit.