Steven Severin (bassist for Siouxsie & The Banshees) will be performing “Music For Silents”, his score for the 1926 silent surrealist classic film “The Seashell & the Clergyman” at The Independent in San Francisco on Monday, April 6th. Tickets go on sale at TicketWeb on Feb 15th.

Below is a review from a recent performance of the same show in the UK:

When Germaine Dulac premiered her film The Seashell and the Clergyman in 1928, playwright Antonin Artaud, who penned the half-hour short’s original scenario, is said to have heckled the screen, going so far as to call its director a “cow”. If such confrontational behaviour sounds like a precursor to punk’s assault on culture half a century later, a new score to the film by former Siouxsie and the Banshees bassist Steven Severin is all too appropriate.

Making his first solo appearance, Severin performed MUSIC for SILENTS, a compendium of soundtracks for Dulac’s film and six contemporary extrapolations of the surrealist spirit. Black-clad and sat stage-left with his laptop on a table in front of him, Severin provided a very 21st-century version of the silent-movie accompanist responding to the images onscreen – which, in The Seashell and the Clergyman, concern the erotic fantasies of a priest lusting after a general’s wife, with all the sexual symbolism (and maid’s uniforms) one might expect. Severin’s electronic twinkles moved from moodily sombre to more playful piano runs for the chase scenes. The second half of the programme plugged into similar ambient dynamics to accompany black-leather voyeurism, fairground sideshows and explicit animations, all mixed up with visual collages and optical illusions.

In the speakeasy confines of a Saturday night Voodoo Rooms, it was a treat to see Severin’s new direction treated so seriously. It’s a shame such a unique event wasn’t tagged with next week’s Diversions season of experimental cinema at the Filmhouse. Either way, the avant-garde underground looks safe in Severin’s hands.

And from a fan forum ……

Well, it was a dark affair, as was to be expected.
The main film was really odd & I *sort of* got the story running through it, though I’m not really a fan of ’silents’ in the first place (save for Nosferatu) but it certainly wasn’t that interesting, or entertaining, on any level.
His score however (the REAL reason for going) was excellent, brooding and gorgeous. Similar to his other work, more Beauty And The Beast & Woman In The Dunes in style, than to his recent film soundtrack work, in my opinion.
After the intermission, a collection of 6 shorts (I do have titles as we were given a wee programme) showed a far darker, sexual & even a more playful side to his score writing, though the subject matter of the films remained intense, perverse and difficult (my partner said he felt “mentally raped” by the end!!)

To sum up, it was fantastic to sit in a room with Steven on his Mac, regardless of what was on the screen. His music is deeply affecting & I loved every twisted moment.



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