Thursday, March 25, 2010

Dracula - 1931, Soundtrack - 1998

a cliche is born

As seen before with The Passion of Joan of Arc, films made back in the silent era often did not have official soundtracks. Usually, silent films were soundtracked with live piano accompaniment and the music could literally be different for every viewing. The original reason for having a soundtrack at all was not to enhance or compliment the viewing experience, but in fact an attempt to add a little class and sophistication to this new and unaccepted art form. In the early part of the 20th century, folks weren't totally comfortable with sitting in a dark room with a bunch of strangers. This type of thing was kind of frowned upon as it would obviously lead to public fornication and pick pocketing. The idea was, toss in a dude with a piano, and you’ve classed it up. This was supposed to make it slightly easier to excuse the vulnerability of a dark room. The downside was the pianist picked the score, and didn’t always make the best choice. You could have a tragic, melancholy piece paired with a Buster Keaton film, or you could have a jaunty jingle paired with Nosferatu.

The upside, however, was that years later, modern composers were given a chance to compose "official” soundtracks for classic works. Collaborations literally 60-90 years in the making. We saw this previously with Einhorn’s EPIC Voices of Light and now again with Dracula, by Philip Glass.

now thats what a vampire looks like

I know we’ve had some Glass kissing on this blog before but this time its Glass in a slightly different way. Inspired by Tod Browning’s 1931 mega classic starring Bela Lugosi and Dwight Frye (the same one Alice Cooper wrote that song about), the contemporary Dracula soundtrack was composed by Glass and performed by pretty spooky bow chuggers, The Kronos Quartet.

This soundtrack is fairly conventional for Glass but the original film is a pretty big deal and the creepiness of the Kronos Quartet make this a totally enjoyable listen. Perfect reading music, not the best boning music.

Speaking of terrible boning music: BONUS RECORD!

I’m also going to toss in another record by the Kronos creepos called Black Angels. If Dracula is haunting, this record is a rape flashback (too far?). It pretty much sounds like standing in a pitch black cave and being blown over by a tsunami of pissed off bats. You never know when they’re going to come at you. Its shrill, harsh, creepy, and totally rad. But don’t try boning to it. Seriously.

not the original cover

but you're welcome to use whichever one you want

For those experienced IC readers with a taste for the bizarre, the Dracula stuff may be a little too tame for your battered and worn down eardrums. If you’ve got more of an appetite for far out violin weirdness, crazy noises, experimental shreddery and dark musical exploration, then the Black Angels record should balance out the more listenable Dracula soundtrack.

Is this whole post just an excuse to put up more bow chugging? YES.
To be totally honest these albums aren’t even that amazing (I’m such a good salesmen), but they chug bows. So if you’re a chug junky, or bowmosexual, I’m sure there’s plenty of room on your terabyte hard drive. Whatever, I don't care.


Black Angels


Peter said...

Nice post dude.
I thought it was worth mentioning that the last 5 tracks of Black Angels are Dmitri Shostakovich's 8th string quartet. I posted another performance of that piece a while back when I featured him. If you guys were into that, and legit nerds, you can listen to this version and compare it to the other. Real classical nerds are all about that. It is pretty incredible how a much of a difference there can be from performance to performance. I think I just admitted the extent of my nerdness...
Black Angels also features George Crumb (in the first 3 tracks) who is a pretty cool composer. He composed that piece specifically for Kronos to play.
Finally, a piece by Charles Ives is on track 6 of this CD. Its not necessarily my favorite piece by the guy but still check it out. He rules and hopefully will be featured here at some point in the future.

RyGar said...

Great pitch, man. I bought it. Stupid me, I didn't even know that Dracula was directed by Tod Browning, of "Freaks" fame. Speaking of which- Last year, on the anniversary of Johnny Ramone's death, they had a tribute at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Lots of cool people showed up, and spoke about the man. Then, they showed "Freaks" projected on the side of a mausoleum. It's got to be in my top fives. Thanks for posting so damned often. I'm indoors way too much these days, but the IC is always reliable.

SEANFORD said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SEANFORD said...

Peter, thanks for coming through with the double stuff (shotgun anus). The Shostakovich's tracks are may fave. I’m all about more classical nerdage on this blog.

RyGar, I TOTALLY MISSED THAT SHIT. I heard all about it though. Only upside to living in LA, sometimes you get to do shit like that (unless you fuck up and miss it).

Shelby Cobras said...

George Crumb had a killer track on the Exorcist OST, too, if I'm not mistaken...

PS I'm getting an "archive unknown or damaged" message for the Dracula album, is it just me or is anyone else having problems?

Manslaughter said...

Peter: Exactly how many years of music school does it take to become such a bow chugging WIZARD?!?! and when are you going to drop experimental science in the Bay?

Peter said...

No worries Seanford. There are more nerdy posts in the works as we speak. Watch for them soon.

Melanie, reaching a state of meganerdom is a life long process.

Shelby Cobras said...

Why the soft sell, Sean? This Kronos shit = EPIC DISSONANT SHRED

Akito said...

Hi! I hope you don't mind my commenting here. I stumbled across your blog while searching for download links to the 1931 Dracula soundtrack. I have been searching for the music for years, and I nearly cried tears of joy after finally getting it thanks to you! Thank you so much! :D