Undead melodies

That tune that won’t leave your head, the one that comes back when you let down your guard, can be maddening, a painful obsession. Over and over again, it breaks like a musical surf into your reverie: the heavy-metal hook, the techno riff, the minimalist passage by Steve Reich or Philip Glass. What starts out reassuring, like the glow of dawn each morning, can get a little ominous in its insistence or when it suddenly stops and leaves darkness (silence).

Glass is no stranger to the eternal return, the melody that won’t quit. In fact, it has become a signature MO for the composer of such trancelike works as Einstein on the Beach and the Low Symphony. But it’s as a composer of film scores that Glass has managed to really insinuate his way into our collective memories, with a career’s worth of award-winning projects ranging from Mishima and The Thin Blue Line to Kundun and The Truman Show.

Some of the more obscure and fascinating works in the Glass film-score hypnodrome will be performed from Wednesday, Oct. 31 to Saturday, Nov. 3 at the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor. But what catches our attention as we chill our bones in preparation for Halloween is the score that Glass has written for Dracula (to accompany the 1931 version, directed by Tod Browning and starring who else but Bela Lugosi).

Dracula, the myth that just keeps resurfacing, has become a maniacally appropriate accompaniment to our postmodern lives — with its unwavering threat, its perpetually unfulfilled desire, its unquenchable thirst for an impossible satisfaction. Glass’ music sets just the right mood for this deathless tale of the repressed that always returns.

Next Wednesday, Oct. 31 at 8 p.m., the composer along with the Philip Glass Ensemble will perform this work during a projection of the Browning film at the Michigan Theater. It’s a unique opportunity to experience harmonic madness and a cinema treasure combining apprehension, dense mists of romanticism and the eerie itch that won’t go away. Call 734-764-2538 for tickets or go to www.ums.org.

Hot & Bothered was written and edited by George Tysh. E-mail him at [email protected]
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