Bram Stoker is 100 years dead as of April 2012. Imagine that. Nosferatu is actually the name of a movie released in 1922 based on Stoker's novel Dracula but the studio wasn't able to get the rights the novel. The music was created for a modern Polish stage production that is supposed to be "of" the novel. I wasn't able to verify what they are actually calling the play, but anyway...
I was a big horror movie fan and also a movie soundtrack fan when I was a kid before I got into prog and jazz and classical so I had to go for this album and it has some of all of that all rolled together. Before you even get to the music you have to take a look at and a feel of the package. The Tzadic label gets two thumbs up for all the CD album packaging and artwork I have encountered so far. The outer cover is a velvety textured black cardboard with dark red slick textured lettering and a little bat on the front. The back is also smooth and velvety with dripping blood from the top edge. The booklet is more of a matt finish but also uses slick clear lettering on the front and clear slick blood streaks running down from the top edges of the pages in various patterns. The booklet has a few pages of pictures from the production (play, dance?) and it looks like it would be really good to see. Maybe it will make it to DVD one day.
Two other albums come to mind and they are Philip Glass's Dracula soundtrack for the Bela Lugosi movie that did get the novel rights and Harold Budd's (not at all about Dracula or Nosferatu) She Is A Phantom. The latter album comes closer to it for having vibes and a more atmospheric quality to the music. Put the three together and you'll have a nice spooky trio.
The track names are fairly indicative of the music you get as the characters and story themes inspire the music. Desolate Landscape starts out the album with foreboding dark ambient music. Mina mellows it out a little while with piano and vibes. The Battle of Good and Evil noisy as you would expect from a battle between good and evil. John gets to in a little of his trademark sax strangling of course. Very industrial sounding a little Nine Inch Nailsish.
Sinistera and Van Helsing have that spooky vibes driven sound that makes me think of the Budd album. Fatal Sunrise brings back some mellower sax work and Bill Laswell steps forward with some atmospheric bass. Hypnosis comes in and spins around your head vibes and electric piano. The Lucy theme has some similarities to another piece from another album, but I can't quite put my finger on it right now. All of the non-undead persons titled pieces on this are really down to earth, mellow, and contemplative. Nosferatu on the other hand is screwy and creepy with rat noises and Zorn's breath.
The Stalking is one of those trademark Bill Laswell ambient dub style pieces. It's a long stalking too, as all stalking should be I guess. Old horror movie stalkings tend to be that way. It's the longest piece. The bass plods on along and creepy keyboards and squealing sax drift in and out and about. The Undead is a quiet piece with John on piano. Death Ship sounds like a creaky old vessel on a dead sea. Jonathan Harker has Rob Burger, the main keyboardist in the group, taking center stage in a duet with the group's percussionist, Kevin Norton, on vibes.
Vampires At Large, bass and electric keyboards lurking about. Renfield, piano and vibes again, hesitant, a little mysterious. Stalker Dub wraps it up, figures, did you remember to shoot it in the head with a silver bullet? No wait? that's all wrong. The stake, the stake, aieeee!!!