Cucurbitophobia (meaning: “the fear of pumpkins”) has truly done something great here. The mastermind behind the group is New Jersey native multi-instrumentalists and composer Robert Benaquista who began creating elaborate music compositions as early as 2010. He’s classically trained and skilled on various instruments and drew his influences from contemporary horror film composers, visionaries of neoclassicism, expressionism, serialism and atonal composition, as well as experimental electronic, dark ambient, prog and avant-garde music. Overall, the compositions here sound exactly like something that comes from a horror film. Filled with synths and ambient piano and more, the eerie and moody atmospheres of his most recent record Rituals is packed with some great vibes. 

 Rituals gets started with “Ritual I: Aurora,” where some moody piano arrives at the start of this track. I loved the ambience of this tune . I thought it had a lot of atmosphere to it. In the background are some synths that add something truly eerie and ethereal to the music. There’s some melancholy to the overall moody vibes as I felt the music wash over me. More piano music reels you in with a monotone and moody vibe on “Ritual II: The Offering.” Next, the piano tune opens up to something more melodious. The vibe was rather somber and I was getting Tim Burton vibes here.

Some discordant keys sound out here on “Ritual III: The Purge.” The sound was reverberating and highly moody. The tune continues and meanders for a bit, seeming to carry a thought and then go with something else. Next, some loud synths enter. There’s an ominous quality to the music that honestly had me spooked. Some organs arrive for an ethereal and airy vibe on “Ritual IV: Crepuscule.” The sound flits in and out of the recording. The ambient sounds really spoke to me. I felt myself being carried away by the eerie and soaring sounds. 

 On “Summoning The Sleep Demon – I: Crossing The Abyss,” some more piano tunes light up this track. The piano embraces a truly melancholy and moody vibe. The tune continues for a bit for a somber feel. The eerie notes were rather disconcerting as the ominous vibes washed over listeners. Once again, I was reminded of Tim Burton and even Hitchcock. On “Summoning The Sleep Demon – II: The Abysmal Cometh,” some ominous synths reel you in for an eerie vibe. The sounds continued and I was reminded of Hitchcock films.

The synths paired with the piano keys made for a highly moody vibe. Some electronic modes and keys reel you in for an ominous vibe on “Nebula Of Unspeakable Darkness.” The sounds slowly build up for a moving portrayal of darkness. More synths arrive at the start of “Illusion Of A Withered Orchid.” Next, a melancholy piano melody struts in for a somber feel. This sad piano tune reminded me a lot of Tim Burton films like Corpse Bride and The Nightmare Before Christmas. I thought this was a memorable way to end the album. 

The dark and experimental music felt really cinematic to my ears as I was brought back to horror movies during the ‘70s or ‘80s. I would recommend listening to this with headphones on to get the best possible effect. All in all, this is perfect for Halloween or if you’re in the mood for something spooky. Other than that, I think this would be perfect for playing in the background as you get some studying or reading done. Benaquista has truly composed something truly awe-inspiring here!

Garth Thomas