Steven Severin ‘Vampyr’ – album review

Steven Severin ËœVampyr’ (Cold Spring)
CD/DL
Available now

Steven Severin is best known as a founding member of Siouxsie & The Banshees, the band whose members were at the vanguard of the original punk movement, who went onto deserved international success, and whose iconic singer arguably stylised the Ëœgoth’ genre. The Banshees have staunchly rebuffed the notion of a re-formation, the various members continuing to forge their own destinies as opposed to back tracking.

Of the original members Severin is possibly producing some of the most interesting work, he’s certainly offering up the most challenging, and \’Vampyr’ is no exception.

Severin currently lives in Edinburgh and devotes his time to composing film scores. ËœVampyr‘ is the third score from his ËœMusic For Silent’s’ series and follows on from 2010’s ËœBlood Of A Poet’ Vampyr was the 1932 creation of for which Severin presents a mesmerising score, heightening his own appreciation of the surreal and enigmatic nature of the original work. Severin, and in fact The Banshees as a unit were interested in film – their name was drawn from the Vincent Price horror flick ËœCry Of The Banshee’ so its not really a surprise that he now devotes his time to film and theatre score.

Carl Theodor Dreyer was a Danish film director, considered by many to be one of the greatest directors in cinema; he passed away in 1968 leaving behind an acclaimed body of work that began in 1919 with ËœThe President’ and concluded in 1964 with ËœGertrud’.

‘Vampyr’ (1932) is a truly surreal meditation on fear, in simple terms its the story of a man protecting two sisters from a vampire…but clearly there is more to it than that – The film contains many indelible images, such as the hero, dreaming of his own burial and the animal blood lust on the face of one of the sisters as she suffers under the vampire’s spell. The film was shot, despite the fact that sound had become common by then almost as a silent movie with brief moments of cryptic dialogue.

What Severin has done utilising modern electronic equipment is create a highly textured score; a synthesised, darkly atmospheric sound scape that aims to draw the listener rhythmically into the story.

There is no point in claiming that this is an easy listen, no-one will throw ËœVampyr’ into the car CD player whilst driving the kids to school – however a modicum of persistence will pay off, allow yourself to be immersed within the sounds, feel the textures and you will find yourself mentally transported to a dark, even nightmarish environment.

ËœThrough A Glass Darkly’ broods, a deep painfully slow rhythm lurks in the background whilst snatches of light are offered by the tinkling of bells, ËœAllans Theme’ is built around a deep rhythmic drone, knowing that this forms the score to a vampire movie you find yourself visualising scenes from a film yet to be made to fit the sounds Severin has created…the entire album is one of musical shadows, swirling mists that on each repeat visit offers up something you hadn’t picked up upon previously.

As I suggested there is nothing really here for the casual music listener, the person happy to leave Bland FM on all day – however if you are prepared to open your mind to wider musical possibilities then ËœVampyr’ will be a deeply rewarding experience. Severin has crafted a modern soundtrack to a film that the majority will not have heard of let alone had the benefit of viewing, its credit to his musical ability that he is able to convey the themes explored within the film, but I can’t help but think that both images and score should be presented together. ËœVampyr’ would work in its own right, it’s just the fact that I am aware that its purpose is to underscore a visual experience that leaves me questioning its release as a separate entity.

Severin recently completed five live UK dates, he tours the United States in October and November;

1-13 Oct 2012, West Coast Tour, US (Los Angeles, San Francisco, Mexico City)
5-18 Nov 2012, East Coast Tour, US (New York, Chicago, Toronto, Buffalo, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia)

\’Vampyr’ is presented in a textured card sleeve with artwork by Severin’s wife Arban.

Tracklisting: (inc links to audio samples)

1.Through A Glass Darkly
2. Allan’s Theme
3. Upon My Death
4. Shadow’s Play
5. They Are Murdering Him
6. (Intersection)
7. Giselle’s Theme
8. Leoné Summoned
9. Leoné Smiles
10. Bloodwork
11. Poison / Aftermath
12. (Intersection)
13. Phantom’s Journey
14. The Apparition
15. The Mill

 

 

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Phil Newall is from The Wirral - he earns his living not writing about music nor playing music...though sorely wishes he could. He was fortunate enough to see many of the first generation punk bands when they played the U18's matinee shows at Eric's, Liverpool. As an attendee at Eric's he was exposed to punk rock, dub reggae, art rock, and all manner of weirdness; as a customer at Probe Records he was variously served and scowled at by Pete Wylie and Pete Burns - he has written for Record Collector, Whisperin & Hollerin, and Spiral Scratch and wanted to write a book detailing the Liverpool punk scene; however with 'Head-On' Julian Cope beat him to it...and frankly did a much better job.

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