“Drink from the chalice and you will be reborn,” vows Perceval to King Arthur in John Boorman’s histrionic production of 1981’s Excalibur.
As far as filmic citations go, it certainly leans towards one of the more opaque of cinema’s quotable references. Yet for Danny Wolfers, aka Legowelt, this illusory discourse became the chimeric backbone of Excalibur R8MK2; a synth-kneaded techno track from 2012’s Crystal Cult 2080. Wolfer’s low-timbered looping of the sample perfectly encapsulates the horrific psychotropic imagery of ritualistic chanting. Setting audio visual scenes such as this is by no means an unfamiliar custom for the orphic Dutch producer. With each successive release, cinema and all of its optic reverie has converged with Wolfers’ approach to electronics.
Having forged an impervious career trajectory spanning over two decades performing under a sundry of contrasting aliases, Legowelt has soundtracked techno and house’s chronological progression. His early work with The Hague based Bunker Records and collaborations with I-F swiftly guided Wolfers down a pictorial path of pre-80s Italian disco and early electro. These years also acquainted Legowelt to the experimental synth work of dominant film soundtrack producers such as Morton Feldman, Ennio Morricone and Goblin. Since then, cinema has become fully embedded in Wolfer’s work having recently composed a revised soundtrack for Werner Herzog’s acid-history trip, Aguirre, Wrath of God, and scored multiple independent shorts. What’s more, Wolfers has constructed what he regards as his own ‘fake soundtrack’ to a non-existent movie entitled UFO Onderzoek 1983 under the guise of a fictional band called Smacko; further hazing the division between visual abstract and sonic reality.
But why does film marry so well with Wolfer’s music? Who exactly does he have to thank for marrying the narrative between moving image and sound? We ask the distinctively idiosyncratic producer to outline exactly how cinema has cut and spliced itself in to his craft.
On Morton Feldman
With image, you can add certain feelings through sound. There are many that do this well. Morton Feldman’s music is unique. Nothing else really sounds like it. It’s like he totally ignored thousands of years of music evolution and completely invented it in his image.
A lot of his compositions are very minimal but, in a way, that is what makes it powerful. Every note stands by itself; swims in a desolate sea of silence so to speak. Funnily enough, I have never seen a film with a soundtrack by Morton Feldman.
I just know his music as it stands on its own yet it creates the mood and image. I think he was mostly a composer who did some soundtrack work on the side but his music influenced a lot of soundtrack guys, especially in the 1970s. Stuff like Altman’s Three Women soundtrack by Gerald Busby sounds very Feldman-esque.
On the dark simplicity of John Carpenter’s synthesisers
Similar to Feldman, Carpenter’s music is simple. In that way, it can easily be grasped and understood. It’s dark, epic and in some instances has a lot of funk. The synth tones he’s made in the past can be easily remade on any synthesiser.
Essentially, it’s just a synth bass, noise samples, percussion and strings. But the simplicity of it all is kind of a blueprint foundation to study. Once you know what he does with the notes and melodies it becomes easy to go your own way from there. I like his soundtracks way more than most of his movies. For example, Assault on Precinct 13 is a pretty dull movie by itself but the soundtrack is so immense. It’s like the movie is just some images built around a soundtrack.
On Italian Exploitation Horror
During the early 90s in The Hague, the influence of 1970s Italian Exploitation horror movies was part of the whole Hotmix Intergalactic FM scene. I-F would play DJ sets and utilise images from Italian cinema. It was used in that music scene a lot.
To be honest, I have never favoured Italian horror over other forms per se and as the years have gone on, I am kind of getting over it. I do, however, like the dreamy atmosphere of Dario Argento’s movies. I think Phenomena is genuinely a cool movie with the addition of Donald Pleasance. The ambience is so good and the soundtrack is beautiful.
On the benefits of ‘fake soundtracking’
This is really fun for me to do and I don’t think too much about it. Maybe these are movies I would like to exist, but they only exist in my fantasies. Fake soundtracking essentially gives music a narrative. It gives it a little backstory that’s more interesting than just pointless techno track number 10000000 called ‘megadoculus cybertrance’.
The Smackos UFO Onderzoek 1983 concept for example came about because I was looking at an old astronomical observatory and conjured up this story about whether the scientists got involved in spotting UFOs during their daily routine while there was a UFO wave over Holland. Then I thought it would be cool if they went to Norway and Svalbard, also known as Spitsbergen, one of the most northern islands in the world.
On future film projects
I am working on a movie about a guy who analyses photographs of Mars on his computer. NASA update photos from Mars’s rover sent back to earth everyday. You can actually watch it on the NASA website. Anyway, this guy believes that he has discovered a lost civilisation full of ruins and artefacts from these photographs. Slowly his dreams are taken over by this civilisation and he begins to subconsciously wander around in these lost cities. It’s a very hazy, dreamy, artistic science fiction movie. The title is yet to be revealed.