Described as dark jazz, a spooky Hank Marvin and surf music from hell by critics, although he refuses to be labelled, sombre Finnish lounge music act Heroin and Your Veins (H&YV) has shown the versatile possibilities of the electric surf guitar and even though it is associated with beach parties, it can also create a dark, dreary, nocturnal, intense, smoky and mysterious atmosphere and take the place of an orchestral instrument in creating cinematic textures.
As proven over the course of his three studio albums Dead People’s Trails, Nausea and Regret, the titles of the songs – “The Chase”, “The Murder Theme”, “The Lady” – the use of ambiguous voices, static rain, mellow moods and the ambient instrumental nature of his compositions give an impression of Film Noir soundtracks. He also has an obsession with quotes from Cornell Woolrich to Franz Kafjka that ponder about death.
So when the mastermind behind H&YV, Mr. Janne Perttula announced that he was to provide an alternative soundtrack to the most famous short film of all time, and death-themed Un Chien Andalou at Loud Silents Club in the Finnish city of Tampere, it sounded like a match made in twisted heaven.
The original soundtrack to the Luis Brunel and Salvador Dalí surrealist project from 1929 was the combination of dramatic opera composed by Richard Wagner and Argentinian tango often referred to as Olé guapa. The Wagner-written operatic piece Liebestod being appropriately used because it shared the film’s topic of erotic death. H&YV’s composition is distinctively his style and is not too dissimilar from his studio work, but rather than imagine the film that accompanies his music inside our heads, it’s intriguing to observe how he can match the drama of an existing set of imagery.
His patient and tense guitar strokes and his well-planned vibrato and tremolo match the pace of the story, making it suffocating and scary. Not only does he tease the audience into the most creepy moments with nauseating suspense but his sudden blasts of guitar effects are perfectly timed to strike at pin point violent action including the gun shot and car-tragedy scenes.
Although H&YV is selective and intuitive with his tempo (for example, he doesn’t dramatize at the door-slamming hand moment or hand of ants), as the short film contains consistent shocks, and he aims to avoid an overwhelming impact that lacks contrast and precision. It’s so effective and appropriately fitting that it’s easy to forget the original orchestral score. There was a little known sequel to Un Chien Andalou called L’Age D’Or also created by Brunel and Dalí, perhaps he can be commissioned to bring it to the spotlight one day.