Vampyr is an amazing 1923 German film (The City Screen had it listed as French) that tells the story of a Young man Allan Gray's arrival at an inn close to the village of Courtempaierr and the strange goings on thereafter. Although sold to us as a silent film, Vampyr did originally have dialogue, sound effects and a score. I'm not sure why the original dialogue was missing from the Severin scored version but it was presented to the audience as a silent movie.
The City Screen website described Severin's score as:
"The unsettling tale of fear and obsession finds its aural counterpart in Severin's suitably textured score, a synthesised, highly atmospheric soundscape drawing the viewer rhythmically into the oneiric imagery on screen".
Having read this I was excited and really looking forward to the event, although I did have to look up what 'Oneiric' meant (it means 'dreamlike' dear reader). I was not familiar with Serverin's music, I of course knew he had been the bass player in Siouxsie and the Banshees, a band whose music I had dismissed and disliked with the exception of the pop song Hong Kong Garden and an interesting cover of the Beatle's Dear Prudence. So after searching for Mr Serverin on Spotify I was pleasantly surprised with his solo output, I particularly liked the soundtrack album 'London Vodoo' and made a mental note to buy a couple of CD's at the forthcoming performance.
The appointed day arrived and to set things off correctly my wife and I went for a nice lunch in Plunkets and a gentle saunter to the City Screen for two thirty pm so that we could get good seats prior to the start of the event. Being a musician/composer I wanted to sit in a position where I could watch the film and see how Serverin manipulated the electronics live.
The cinema filled up and I sat so I was able to watch Mr Serverin's hands and laptop screen and the main screen. A small man introduced 'Steven' to us and we gave him a round of applauses. Steven nodded our existence then sat down at his computer and clicked the mouse and the show begin.
After a few seconds Steven twiddled a knob on the mixer (making no discernable difference to the audio sound or volume output) and then sat there for 75 minutes looking at a stereo wav file running slowly across his computer screen.
I thoroughly enjoyed the film and for the most part liked the score, there were a couple of parts where I didn't think the music was right for what we were seeing but these were small criticisms.
At the end of the film Mr Servein stood up, nodded to us and walked out of the fire exit he had walked in some 80 minutes before, without uttering a single word to us. Here is where I have a big problem, how dare Mr Serverin (nee Bailey) call that a performance, there was no interaction with the audience whatsoever and he barely register our existence which is not good for performer/audience relations. It would have been nice for him to say 'thanks for coming and I'll spend a couple of minutes taking questions' but no he did a runner into the foyer to sign CD's. He might as well have not been there because anyone could have clicked the mouse button to start the show. My wife summed it up by saying 'that’s money for old rope isn't it?' and I have to agree with her.
The interesting thing is that I have to do a similar performance from my latest solo album next month at the Sonorities Festival of Contemporary Music in Belfast whereas instead of sitting staring at my computer screen I am planning to do a live mix of one of the compositions with visuals triggered by what I'm mixing and I'm intending to spend 5 minutes at the start talking about the
piece of music. I have been trying to get a choreographed dance sorted out for the performance but it won't be ready in time. Sonorities are planning to video it and put it on YouTube so you'll be able to decide for yourself if my approach to this type of laptop performance works.
And finally on a parting shot, the money I had allocated to the couple of CD's I was going to buy from Mr Serverin was spent on a Daphne Oram CD and a Bjork CD, the latter a Super Audio Compact Disk, both to be discussed in a future blog.
Until next time dear reader
Ian J Cole - 5th Feb 2012
you can follow Ian on Twitter at https://twitter.com/#!/ianjcole
Useful References and Web links:
Also see ‘He barely registered our existence' – in York Mix Magazine