Described by Roger Ebert as “not merely bad, but an embarrassment”, Polanski’s 1976 psychological horror film The Tenant saw the controversial director himself as a Kafkaesque paranoid, in drag, hallucinating that his neighbours were playing football with a human head. Its soundtrack, by Philippe Sarde, was never likely to compete with Mary Poppins in the sunlit jollity stakes. It’s a heroic choice of cover version or “reimagining” for Malmo-based trio Death And Vanilla, then. Emboldened by their 2013 reading of Vampyr, they recorded this live at a Spanish festival screening. Inevitably the results are haunted and haunting. But not just as in “a bit forlorn”. As in so creepy you’ll keep glancing nervously over your shoulder. With minimal fuss, and sounding anything but vanilla, the unit, using unsettling vintage instruments (is that a Mellotron we hear before us? A Moog behind us?), murmur up a quiet unease somewhere between Angelo Badalamenti and Krautrock with the “rock” part replaced by “stuff which is generally intended to put the willies up you”. Spooky kicks, though you wouldn’t want to live here.
Chris Roberts has written about music, films, and art for innumerable outlets. His new book The Velvet Underground is out April 4. He has also published books on Lou Reed, Elton John, the Gothic arts, Talk Talk, Kate Moss, Scarlett Johansson, Abba, Tom Jones and others. Among his interviewees over the years have been David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Debbie Harry, Bryan Ferry, Al Green, Tom Waits & Lou Reed. Born in North Wales, he lives in London.