UK-based Repeated Viewing is one of the best composers in the realm of scores-for-films-not-yet-made. You will try to dispute this, perhaps, but will find that you can’t. He has the ability to intricately cultivate fascinating narratives solely through expertly executed and structured instrumental albums. Today, he brings that energy with even more intensity on the thrilling The Beach House, his first full-length album since 2017’s Street Force 2.
On The Beach House, Repeated Viewing (AKA Alan Sinclair) ramps up the hallmarks of an RV album exponentially. As he has in the past, he blends electronic genres of the 1970s and 1980s with soaring guitar work and driving drums to craft “soundtracks” that reflect the best of acts like Goblin, or John Carpenter, or Tangerine Dream, but with his own fingerprints. (On The Beach House, specifically, Sinclair has a preternatural way of distilling the spirit of TD’s Thief score and Carpenter’s themes for Escape from New York and Christine into something unmistakably the work of Repeated Viewing.)
It’s easy in this realm to toss around descriptors such as “Carpenteresque” or “sounds like Tangerine Dream,” or make a Claudio Simonetti reference, but it’s not just Repeated Viewing’s choice of synth pads, arpeggiations, or guitar arrangements that recall those greats. Sinclair transcends that.
Consider his releases such as 2017’s Street Force I and II; last year’s PIECES Vol 1.1 Faim, Folie, Crime; 2015’s The Three Sisters; and 2011’s Six Dead Orchids in an Eagle’s Talons. They all are truly deserving of comparisons to the greats because they all tap into the humanity, compositional skill, and emotional intelligence those composers bring to their music. There’s nothing cynical to Repeated Viewing’s music.
A Thrilling Beach House Tale
The Beach House is stacked with heart, foreboding, insight, deft musical skill, and narrative command, but in a way that features Sinclair exercising those traits in a fuller, more dynamic capacity than he ever has in the 10 years since he started writing music as Repeated Viewing. Let me zero in on some specific examples of this across the nine-song LP.
The title cut opens the album, giving us a panic-inducing piano line and rising synths out the gate, which give way to a throbbing rhythm track, ’70s prog organs, and grizzled axe riffage. “Across the Dunes,” which you first heard last August on Timothy Fife’s Vehlinggo Mix, moves the story to another part of the beach with field recordings of water splashing and birds making noise, as synth pads and other ambient electronic elements reinforce a kind of perturbed resilience. The composition is reminiscent of the work of Johan Agebjörn and Mikael Ögren album We Never Came to the White Sea.
“Visions in the Dusk,” which kicks off Side B, is a slow-burn, kosmische (krautrock)-tinged number that recalls ’80s action/thriller soundtracks and instills a deep commitment to resolve befitting a cue set somewhere in Act 2. Toward the end of the album, “Looking for Help,” kicks off with the minimal-yet-holistic punch of Carpenter and transitions into a kind of supernatural fuzz of ambient light. The closer, a “finale” version of the title theme, kicks off with an ominous conjuring of dark intensions, moves on to the demonic twinkling of the piano we started with, and descends into an emotional onslaught of instrumentation that suggests both resolution and no true resolution at all — we are in limbo despite the apparent outcome. Whatever happened at The Beach House, we’ll never be the same again.