[sic] Magazine

Dergar – The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

Taking its name from a German, expressionist film from 1920, Dergar ‘s The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is neither silent, nor horrible. Quite the reverse in fact. Names have a meaning of course, so it is of interest to note that one of the earliest cinematic examples of modern, psychological horror influenced this recording. To these ears, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is a very pleasing listen. But knowledge of the source material gives an added depth.

Let’s go further, this whole album has been conceived as a re-imagined, modern day soundtrack for the movie. Greek electronica exponent Dergar (real name Christos Garbidakis ) intends us to listen to the entire work in syncronisation with viewing the film. It is an indulgence I heartily endorse. The juxtaposition of these minimalistic, yet labrynthine pieces work perfectly with the films twisted, jagged visuals. If ambient music means background, then why the hell not place it behind one of the most visually stunning pieces of early cinema?

With the caveat that my cine-literacy lags far behind my knowledge of music, I might still posit at least the notion that Robert Wiene ‘s early silent has influenced more modern examinations of guilt and denial. Scorsese ‘s misunderstood Shutter Island is the prime, post 9/11, example of this while William Peter Blatty ‘s The Ninth Configuration pulled the same trick back in 1980, possibly as an apology for the Vietnam war. Both these films examine the notion of identities fragmented by guilt, denial and failure to accept responsibility. Both also show us that redemption through violence is not a solution and present us with other possibilities for healing. If Dergar’s album is a soundtrack for such themes then it can only be declared a rounding success. Its melancholic electronica winds its way into our hearts via a series of swirling, shifting melodies, which add layer upon layer of intrigue and revelation.

If The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is an internal journey, then it is one of healing and redemption. You won’t lose yourself listening to this record. You may very well find yourself instead.


Sync with the movie