Song of the Day (Shocktober): Alvarius B “Dracula Frizzi”
Appearing on his 2010 LP, the gleefully titled, Blood Operatives of the Barium Sunset, Alvarius B (aka Alan Bishop) delivers an oddly moving tale of vampirism and love. Taking an instrumental melody composed by an Italian film composer – erroneously credited to Fabio Frizzi (featured earlier this week), but actually composed by the similarly named Claudio Gizzi for Andy Warhol and Paul Morrissey‘s Blood For Dracula – Bishop wrote some hauntingly gorgeous lyrics and re-arranged the piece as an acoustic guitar ballad. Thus, what was once a horror movie theme is re-imagined as a ghoulish torch song. Bishop also gets an assist from experimental musician Tim Young, who delivers an heavily-processed guitar solo worthy of Robert Fripp.
Alan Bishop, both through the releases he attributed to freak-folk persona Alvarius B, in his old band, Sun City Girls or through one of his many other musical projects (the Middle Eastern-based acts The Invisible Hands and Dwarfs of East Agouza) has often tapped into film music for inspiration. This has included covers of movie themes (numerous songs by Ennio Morricone, Nancy Sinatra‘s theme to Bond flick, You Only Live Twice) as well writing his own sweepingly cinematic anthems. Bishop’s oddball sensibility and tastes for the macabre often see these songs enter into horror movie territory: frequently balancing camp, terror and beauty in a perfectly controlled balancing act. All of this is delivered through a frequently demented trickster persona while also managing to stay deeply heartfelt.
Much like how film director John Waters is said to often go up to just the edge of bad taste (and sometimes well past), yet still produce something unique, transcendent and strangely moving, Alan Bishop can perhaps be considered the the John Waters of popular music. Bishop mines the odder sides of culture and counter-culture for material much in the same way that Waters does. While prolific in his output, Bishop manages an extremely high quality control over the many odd and wonderful songs he releases. His appetite for the odd often sees odd bits of (multi)cultural ephemera re-purposed for his own ends with frequently wonderful, but always interesting results. “Dracula Frizzi” is a perfect example.