by Aaron Gidney
Stearica hail from Turin, Italy and are a Post-Rock trio specialising in instrumental soundtracks and soundscapes – and in this case, the 1920 German Expressionism silent horror film ‘Der Golem, Wie Er In Die Welt’ (which translates as The Golem – How He Came Into The World) by Paul Wegener and Carl Boese.
I decided to watch the film alongside the soundtrack to try and fully immerse myself in this piece of art (both musically and cinematically) – and I must say it was a fairly enlightening experience. The juxtaposition of watching and listening to a movie and a soundtrack conceived 100 years apart was absolutely fascinating. I had wondered whether this was one of those Wizard of Oz/Dark Side Of The Moon urban legends – given that the soundtrack is only 42 minutes, against the 1 hr 16 min running time of the film – however, the band have wisely attached Chapters to each of the song titles – helping the listener to identify each song with a particular part of the film.
The soundtrack is gorgeous in places, emphasising on minimalism, clearly designed to complement the movie’s scenes. The use of simple, ringing, delay and reverb-laden guitar lines ensures that there are tangible melodic themes to grasp, and these ebb and flow in accordance with the mood.
Much of the musical textures are what you’d expect with most instrumental Post-Rock, however, it’s executed eloquently and certainly doesn’t distract or detract from watching alongside the theme. It’s quite absorbing in places and never feels like it’s a nuisance – my only criticism would be that the modern-ness of the instrumentation does belie the 100 year time difference and perhaps would fit better with a more modern soundtrack (take 28 Days Later for instance). The more laid-back opening tracks seem to sit the best within the movie whereas, later ones such as ‘Rejoyce Ye, Ye!’ (Chapter 4) really feel too upbeat and slightly out of context – a minor gripe though!
The album closes with the haunting ‘Der Golem’ (The Angel’s Theme – Chapter) which rounds things off nicely. Beautifully constructed and simple minimalism really shows off the restraint from these guys and introduces the ethereal angelic voices, weaving in and out of the subtle soundscape textures.
An eerie expedition, which needs to be listened to along with the movie – the movie is silent so there shouldn’t be a problem there!
1. The Stars Reveal
(an impending calamity – chapter 1)
2. How He Came Into The World
(shaping his soul like clay – chapter 2)
3. The Great Spell
(the invocation of Astaroth – chapter 2)
4. The Shem
(Golem comes to life – chapter 2)
5. A Strange Servant
(Golem’s first errand – chapter 3)
6. The Rose Festival – part 1
(the sad scent of a different flower.- chapter 3)
7. The Rose Festival – part 2
(save me and I will pardon your people – chapter 3)
8. Rejoyce Ye, Ye!
(the sound of the shofar – chapter 4)
9. In Flames
(the fire spell – chapter 5)
10. Der Golem
(the angels’ theme – chapter 5)