Steven Severin - Vampyr [Cold Spring - 2012]“Vampyr” finds Siouxsie and the Banshees founder-member & soundtrack composer Steven Severin re-scoring 1930’s vampire film of the same name. He offers up a compelling & moody mixture of dark ambience, subtle electrioncia beats ‘n’ textures, and genreal dark electronic moodiness.
Vampyr was Germany/French production that was directed by Danish director Carl Theodor Dreyer (The Passion of Joan of Arc, Thou Shalt Honour Thy Wife & Gertrud) in 1932. The films plot tells of a young male traveller who is obsessed with the supernatural, he visits an remote castle/ chateau where he starts seeing weird, inexplicable sights such as : a man whose shadow has a life of its own, a mysterious scythe-bearing figure tolling a bell, & a terrifying dream of his own burial. Things come to a head when one of the daughters of the lord of the castle succumbs to anaemia - or is she really a vampire?. The film unfolds very much as a surreal nightmare, with a story line that’s often difficult to follow, but is alive with memorable early nightmarish horror movie imagery. The film is often mentioned in the same breath as F.W. Murnaus 1922 Nosferatu and Tod Brownings 1931 Dracula, as a highly influential early vampire/horror movie.
Severins’ soundtrack offers up fifteen tracks that fall between just under the minute & a half mark, to just over the seven & a half minute mark. And these tracks move from slowly bob ‘n’ weaving synth patterns, which are a-float on ominous ambient drone drifts. Onto brooding & pitch black sustained organ pitch shimmers. Through to uneasy mixes of revolving 'n' warbling electro texturing over murky & off kilter atmospheric drifts. Onto moody & building dark orchestrated synth textures, which are weaved by subtle electronica / industrial beats ‘n’ textures. Through to golden yet slightly melancholic synth string swoons & waltz’s . Over to more slow & revolving ambient tone circulations. From track to track the pace is fairly varied, and Severin has a great ear for both haunting melody & moody track construction.
The only thing that let’s the release down a little bit is the CD’s packaging- it just consists of a single grey slip card sleeve with black printing on. It would have been nice to have a booklet of some sort, discussing the original movie, it’s history & how Severin became interested/ involved in the project, ect.
On the whole this is a very well put together & conceived soundtrack, which mixes together dark ambience & moody synth sound tracking with occasional subtle beat or electronic textured elements. I can see this appealing to those who enjoy Ulver’s more soundtrack based work & fans general of dark electronic ambient soundtrackingRoger Batty