Sound of Fear: The Musical Universe of Horror – Event Review

Saturday 3 September 2011
Southbank Centre, London

As part of this years Vision Sound Music festival 2011, there was a dedicated 2 part showpiece to Horror music. Part I was presented by SAM (Sound and Music) and held in The Purcell Room at London’s Southbank Centre. A sell out crowd were treated to three completely different acts.

First up with her unique take on the Horror genre was audio-visual artist Vicki Bennett, aka People Like Us. Vicki has been at the forefront of audio-visual performances since the 90’s and her latest work ‘Horror Collage’ was essentially just that; a collage of some of the most iconic Horror films re-cut with alternative tracks over the top. The result was an interesting, amusing and alternative storyline to the classics we are so familiar with.

She had clearly done a lot of research from the amount of films that we saw snippets of. Most of the films were from the early Horror era, such as the classic Hammer films through to more modern films like Carrie and The Wicker Man. Apparently sourcing from over 100 horror movies, Vicki changed the narrative that occurs within the horror genre. Read an interview with Vicki Bennett about the show here.

The ‘Horror Collage’ was always a preliminary name and it will continue to tour the UK with the new name of ‘The Magical Misery Tour’. For more info visit the People Like Us site.

Next up was Lee Hangjun, Hong Chulki and Choi Joonyong presenting After Psycho Shower, a new interpretation of the aftermath of the classic shower scene from the Hitchcock classic, Psycho. This was a much harsher and abstract piece. At the back of the theatre were the guys set up across the desk using multiple cine projectors, 3 in total. Each projector had certain sequences of the movie scene that were being looped, re-wound and scratched with. Each of the 3 projectors had coloured gels across the lenses. The gels creating a saturated hue of colour across the whole projection. Maybe not surprisingly they were predominantly red.

It took a while to get started, it was a slow build up and the crowd were a bit unsure what to make of it. One by one the projectors kicked into action. By the time that all three were running, the audience began to understand what they were trying to achieve. It is very rare to see any artist mixing with cine film projectors and that should be applauded. But for most people i’m not sure they enjoyed it. There were a lot of puzzled faces. As a performance it may have been better suited to an experimental video night. To take nothing away from these guys, they had their vision and set about it in a very professional manner, it just didn’t sit well sandwiched between the light hearted nature of Vicki Bennett’s work and the classic theme tunes from John Carpenter.

Finishing off Part I, and what the crowd had been waiting for was Alan Howarth. Alan has worked extensively with John Carpenter over many many years, working on nearly all of Carpenters classic and well know movies. He seemed almost a little daunted, but excited, to be presenting the work to a theatre full of people – “a lot different from sitting in a basement studio with John playing these keyboard riffs… that pretty much all we have done for the last twenty years”.

Accompanying Alan was Jade Boyd, a video artist. Jade was creating a live video mix on the huge projection screen of the famous films. Alan performed selections from the soundtracks of Escape From New York, They Live, The Fog, Assault on Precinct 13, The Thing and of course, finishing off with the pinnacle of their work Halloween.

Here’s a video of a similar performance in New York:

From the beginning the set was plagued with technical problems and it was certainly an irritating factor. Although out of the control of Howarth and Boyd to a large extent, you couldn’t help but feel sorry for them. The visuals went well with the live keyboard and everything did build to a nice crescendo for the epic end sequence of Halloween – no doubt what most of the people sitting there were waiting for.

It was a treat to see and hear these classic themes performed live. It did however feel a little disjointed, the lack of touring and live performances did show through. Something i’m sure will be improved and perfected if they continue to put on live shows.

Sound of Fear – website
People Like Us – website

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