AUDIO REVIEW: NEKROMANTIK (VINYL) / COMPOSER: HERMANN KOPP, DAKTARI LORENZ, JOHN BOY WALTON / LABEL: ONE WAY STATIC / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
For a film that features a woman falling in love – and repeatedly having sex – with a corpse, the soundtrack for Nekromantik is appropriately dirty and uncomfortable. The opening keyboard tracks by Daktari Lorenz sound like love themes written for cheap pornography, and the tinny sweep of romance is quickly swept away into a pounding bit of discomfiting Tchaikovsky worship (though still tinny and low-rent).
Once you get into the Hermann Kopp material, though, it's pure, disturbing minimalism. Supper is one metronomic drumbeat over which a violin plays dirge-like variations on the danse macabre, over and over and over and over. It's beautiful in its simplicity, but absolutely destroys and sense of joy you might've had going for you on the particular day you put needle to vinyl. Each of Kopp's pieces takes a particular musical instance – a clarinet riff, discordant wails, et al – and then repeats them for the duration of each scene, gradually building in intensity until you're ready to claw your skin off in agony and frustration.
I've never seen 1987's Nekromantik, because some things are too outre for even me, and given that the expanded soundtrack here essentially contains every piece of music you might come into contact with over the course of the movie, I don't know if I ever will see it. I say that because this score is so grimy, so dirty, so completely dank, that you'll find yourself looking for a shower afterward.
The music is effective, but so stark that it's very unlikely that this will appeal to many outside the fanbase of the film and/or minimalist music. This isn't fun electronic scoring, but rather more disturbing in a way that leaves you drained and depressed. It does its job well, mixing as it does strange romance, uncomfortable mood pieces, and vaguely sexual elements, but woe-betide anyone who sees this as a record to liven up a party.
The final track, Sapor Sanguinus, really clued me into the sort of feeling for which Kopp was going, though – his score resembles nothing so much on this track as the music of Herschel Gordon Lewis on his gore-soaked early films, such as Blood Feast. It's simple, almost childlike in its lack of complexity, but the way in which the music is stripped to the bone and left to grim and menacing works perfectly.
The bonus 7-inch enclosed has a further couple of tracks by Kopp, which basically meld the violin sawing and scraping with the electronics of Daktari Lorenz that open the album for an ultimate team-up of unpleasantness. The pieces by John Boy Walton are simple piano works, and are surprisingly pretty. Further bonus comes in the form of a postcard flexi featuring black metal band Carpathian Forest covering the Nekromantik theme, which, given the static-ridden lo-fi nature of the medium, sounds appropriately desiccated and worn.
The liner notes take a turn for the different by engaging director Jörg Buttgereit in a Q&A format, rather than the usual One Way Static personal essays. It focuses the director's words more on the music itself, rather than the overall film. Kopp and Lorenz do offer their own paragraph summations of what they did, as well, and they're aptly nihilistic in tone.
The packaging is, as per usual, top-notch, and the smokey clear vinyl accurately captures the mood of the record perfectly, as well. I imagine the sperm and blood splatter is quite apt, as well.
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