The synth whizz performs a new soundtrack for a classic horror movie.
The marrying of electronic music to the macabre is nothing new. Take Tangerine Dream's otherworldly compositions in The Keep, Mica Levi's chilling synth work in Under The Skin or the soundtrack for Netflix's acclaimed series Stranger Things, composed by Michael Stein and Kyle Dixon of S U R V I V E. When done right, electronic music and horror movies combine to capture coldness and dread like nothing else.
The late-night performance took place at EYE Film Museum in Amsterdam. Outside, a quiet crowd gathered. I caught the occasional glimpse of a Bunker or Clone Records tote bag. As everyone took their seats, Legowelt was characteristically hunched over his machinery in a dark corner, cutting a sort of gothic figure himself—except wearing a tracksuit. He shyly joked with the audience to introduce the project before allowing the curtains to roll back.
As the extended shots of desolate Transylvania met Legowelt's FM synthesis for the first time, the atmosphere became intensely eerie. His eyes darted back and forth between the hardware and the large screen. In one notable scene, rats piled up in the streets of the plagued city and the hypnotizing tones became almost too chilling to bear.
Herzog's muted color palette and off-center compositions continued to fuze beautifully with the tense sonic improvisations. A series of haunting sequences and isolated melodies culminated in the spine-tingling ambience of Dracula's approach to the sleeping Lucy, at which point the iconic scene took on a new kind of elegant and hallucinogenic quality. At times I completely forgot this wasn't the original score.
Towards the end of the film, Van Helsing arrives to witness Harker in distress over a recent bite. "He lost his sanity over it," he cries. "He started to rave!" Legowelt, hearing the audience's laughter, looked up for a brief second. This moment beautifully summed up the Dutch master's subtle and playful bringing together of two worlds.