KTL: The Phantom Carriage, Vienna Gartenbaukino, 7 November 2009

And the live soundtracks just keep on coming. This was the live premiere of KTL‘s score for Victor Sjöström’s classic Swedish silent horror film, although the music has been available on the DVD of the film for almost two years. I’m tempted to ask why it took Peter Rehberg and Stephen O’Malley so long to put on this show, but given both men’s prodigious work rates and the bewildering variety of projects they’re both engaged in at any one time, it would seem churlish to do so.

In any event this was a deliciously unsettling evening, kicking off at the appropriately late hour of 11.00pm. (By a curious twist, I’d also been at the Gartenbaukino the evening before, watching Lars von Trier’s freakishly compelling Antichrist.) Performing in the wide open space of Vienna’s largest cinema, Rehberg and O’Malley stationed themselves on opposite sides of the screen and proceeded to create a soundtrack of nightmarish proportions that twisted and shuddered perfectly in tandem with the expressionist anguish of the film. From time to time O’Malley would violently strum or pluck his guitar strings, producing harsh metallic tones which were then heavily treated. Rehberg, meanwhile, spat vicious and deadly drones from his computer, adding to the sense of emotional turbulence that pervaded the whole film.

The film itself didn’t really grab me very much, I have to admit. I found it very difficult to follow the plot, given the heavy use of flashbacks and the rather confused sense of narrative. I guess I need to watch it again, to which end the above-mentioned DVD would be a very desirable purchase, or even an ideal Christmas present, if anyone else is reading this.

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