Her Dark Gaze Drowned In Light is a re-narration of Carl Theodor Dreyer’s 1932 film, Vampyr. While Stephan Mathieu‘s music isn’t really a score to the film, it is etched in the film’s gloomy, ill-defined imaginings, and the disorienting drones play out their deliciously menacing scenes on the black and white set of the mind.
Opener “Abend” introduces the bloodcurdling treat. Eerie shadows threaten to suffocate the listener, inviting a low-hanging and dusty drone to wedge a foot in the doorway. A sliver of light skims the jagged edges of a mountain in a land far from home. A quiet village lies up ahead.
Sinister but not overpoweringly so, pungent and subtle in its poisonous exhalations, the music recalls Vampyre‘s iconic scenes and its frosty tone. With elements from J. Sheridan Le Fanu’s collection of supernatural stories, In a Glass Darkly, Vampyre is most probably closely associated with Carmilla (a story which actually predates Dracula by 26 years). The vampire is Marguerite Chopin, an elderly woman. The music itself slowly creeps around the unlit streets and claustrophobic corners in the dead of night. Its true face is only hinted at, while the drones drip out a series of black visions. The village of Courtempierre is under a neverending curse; something is just off about the place.
Restless dreams are brought on by the body’s trauma of sudden blood loss. Like a long dream sequence, the drones breeze through, reflecting not only the grimy mirrors of reality but of something else, something neither here nor there, some kind of entity emanating from an unknown leak, like a chilly draft. The temperature drops under what is considered normal for the season; the air itself is the color of the plague. The light is as pale-skinned as one of the vampire’s victims, but the film ultimately conquers the seeping evil.
Some vital part of the chord’s soul is missing; it’s slowly strummed and then picked out in an unclean arpeggio, and only then is it released into the shimmering, polluted air. Clashing frequencies create illusions of slight dissonance which grate and grate until they have worn down whatever tries to resist, and the impure vibrations rise up from a chunk of grim soil. But the promising light of the dawn evens everything out and vanquishes those dark recesses. The sun has risen; the curse is at an end. (James Catchpole)