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An Examination Of Devil Doll With Mr. Doctor

Person list created by ShadowyKnightOfRain Avatar

Mr. Doctor (AKA Mario Panciera) himself provides a little commentary on the one-of-a-kind musical entity that is Devil Doll, as well as the inspirations behind it (this is basically an interview he did around 2008 with a Japanese magazine, except that it has been dissected into smaller fragments for easier reading). The list features seven different sections: "Artist", "Musical Influences", "Literature", "Films", "Lyrics", "Recordings" and "Life After Devil Doll".
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Every musical idiom – Metal, Gothic, Prog-Rock, Classical or whatever – has its charm, as it puts the emphasis on a particular aspect of Music, such as the Energy for Metal, the Atmosphere for Gothic or the Structure for Classical or some Prog-Rock. But what really matters is Music itself, with its enchanting, magical power which transcends senses. A piece of music is remarkable or unremarkable regardless of its idiom: the problem only lies in the sensibility of the listener, who can open his horizons to odd, unheard, demanding sounds, or can remain stuck to the limited idiom of his tribe, to its stereotypes, which are the strict borders of his ignorance. In ancient Hebrew, the word Knowledge and the word Love, where one and the same word – because you can only love, appreciate, understand and be filled by the energy and the vibrations of what you KNOW. With a statement like – It’s not my TASTE – many hide their inability to transcend the narrow limits of their musical horizons. Exactly what Devil Doll has always fought against.

Devil Doll does not belong to any genre as it is the faithful mirror of what I really am. It is no movie, no fake, no façade, no architecture. It is not done to please anybody or to sell records. I have no time nor interest in posing, and I despise a following of poseurs. All I care about is the amazing daily opportunity to open new doors, walking beyond the limit of my previous limit. If I think and talk and act and create in metres, I want to think and talk and act and create in centimetres, always re-setting my sensibility on the strength of new magnifying lenses. Hence, there’s no risk of riding a formula, as I am one and the same ever-changing merrily Tormented Man.

My mother was a classically-trained piano player whose lone influence in my love for music was that she introduced me to the Classical-classics – she was particularly fond of Beethoven – in a peculiar way: music could only be listened in silence and in total obscurity. As a little child, I was sitting in the dining room – where the stereo-player was – she was switching off the lamp, as music AND light were not allowed to co-exist. It was like to be in a Cinema – with my closed eyes visualising the suggestions inspired by a soundtrack made by Beethoven: the second movement of his "Seventh Symphony", with its martial, funeral-like procession, was an early favourite. She was not an adventurous listener, so I did not have the pleasure to experience anything but the obvious ones – Bach, Mozart, Brahms and Vivaldi.
I subsequently turned to Dvorak’s "Ninth Symphony"...
Gustav Holst’s "Planets" (I consider "Mars" the very first Hard Rock piece ever composed)...
Or Samuel Barber’s "Adagio".
Personal influences which thrilled me when I started Devil Doll were Dmitri Shostakovich's "Eighth String Quartet" or "Lady Macbeth Of Mtsensk", Prokofiev's "Aleksander Nevsky", Bela Bartok's "Concerto For Orchestra" and Charles Ives' "Fourth Symphony", whereas Kryszstof Penderecki and Witold Lutoslavski enhanced my interest in the universe of timbre.
A brief but intense spell with some British symphonists of last century – Arthur Bliss, William Alwyn, Arnold Bax, Benjamin Frankel, Humphrey Searle – led me to an in-depth exploration into the world of soundtracks, as these composers had also been responsible for many immortal film scores, most significantly "Odd Man Out" (Alwyn) and "Things To Come" (Bliss).
Apart from Bernard Herrmann, whose entire oeuvre I still find eminently inspiring, I never cared much of most of the famed American film composers, or at least of their widely acclaimed sub-symphonic scores.
Among the Europeans, Ennio Morricone’s remarkable talent was much more influential for me on little films such as "Who Saw Her Die/Chi L’ha Vista Morire?" (which is bizarrely built on spine-chilling children choirs) than on those over-acclaimed soundtracks plagued by the dull warbles of his female vocalist Edda Dell’Orso.
And I cannot forget Nino Rota’s score for Fellini’s "Casanova", which features a track entitled "Il Duca Di Wurtenberg" that is possibly the most extreme piece of Devil Doll-esque music I have never written.
Rock music has also been a great influence, primarily for its effectiveness: it goes straight to the point like a scalpel in a plastic surgery operation. I adored Teddy And His Patches’ 60s Psych-Garage single "Suzy Creamcheese", graced by an uncontrolled primal energy which easily compensated for its compositional rawness and technical ineptitude.
At the same time I found abrasively effective the eccentric and only-apparently simple songs written by Arthur Lee for Love’s third album "Forever Changes"...


And a few Prog-Rock diamonds such as "Red" by King Crimson...
Or Peter Hammill’s "In The Tower/The Black Room" (from his "Chameleon In The Shadow Of The Night" album)...
Or the "Shintokumaru" album by your own J.A. Caesar/Seazer’s.
My guiding light is (and always was) the charm and stupefaction I feel in front of a great work of Art, the trembling of my body when filled by the germs of someone’s inspiration, and the emotion, the challenge of creating, of pulling out of myself the Unknown. Art is the greatest adventure we are allowed to experience in our brief apparition on the stage of life. I have always listened to a wide range of music, but I cannot say I was “directly” inspired by any artist in particular. In Classical music I always admired Mussorgsky’s unorthodoxy, unpredictability and disrespect of rules...
And a few other Russian composers such as Shostakovich (the second tempo of his "8th String Quartet and Chamber Symphony op.110/110a" electrocuted my imagination at least as much as the beginning of his "5th Symphony" must have remained stuck in Morrissey’s mind, when he sampled it for 11 minutes on the opening song of his “Southpaw Grammar” album)...
Prokofiev (whose exceptional melodic ingeniousness influenced me, but must have pleased Sting too, as he borrowed the theme of Prokofiev’s “Lieutenant Kijé” for his hit “Russians”)...
And Mosolov (whose mid-1920s piece “Iron Foundry” is pure Prog-Rock à la Magma, Art Zoyd, Univers Zero).
Early in my Devil Doll days, I was also into Ives (his "4th Symphony", in particular)...
Weill (the “Threepenny Opera” and “The Seven Deadly Sins”)...
And Eisler (a few of his songs, which I also performed and recorded, and the “German Symphony”).
Among the Classical conductors, my favourite was Fritz Reiner, whose interpretations of Dvorak’s "Ninth Symphony", Prokofiev’s “Aleksandr Nevsky” or Armenian composer Alan Hovhaness’s "Second Symphony Mysterious Mountain”, are unsurpassable. Concerning Pop and Rock music, there are a few albums spread throughout the last five decades which I find truly terrific, although I often find more inspirational tiny sparkles of genius lost in bad records, than uniformly good albums which are unable to engrave my soul.

Along with Symbolist poets and the Avant-gardes of the 20th century (Surrealism and its precursor Lautreamont, in particular), I was inevitably shaped by European writers such as Franz Kafka...

Oscar Wilde...
Luigi Pirandello...
Or Graham Greene.
At the same time, I developed an interest for the literature which dealt with imagination, with the hidden and the supernatural: after reading Lovecraft’s inspirational essay “Supernatural Horror In Literature” (1927).
I was carried away by Sheridan LeFanu’s “In A Glass Darkly”...
By the slow but atmospheric Gothic novels of Charles Maturin...
And ‘Monk’ Lewis...
By Edgar Allan Poe (who made me understand from where Baudelaire’s most charming metaphors originated)...
Henry James’ “The Turn Of The Screw”...
Arthur Machen’s “The Great God Pan”...
And Algernon Blackwood’s “The Willows”.
Later I went on to read and love M.R. James...
And Ambrose Bierce...
And, among the writers of the second half of the 20th century, Charles Beaumont.

No other movie has images as stunning as F.W. Murnau’s “Faust” (1926): lightning, composition, camera work are all flawless. Possibly the greatest film director ever, Murnau would create his artistic masterpiece, “Sunrise” in 1927, before prematurely passing away in 1931, aged 42.

Jean Cocteau’s “Orpheus” (1950) sports a clever metaphoric concept and is at the same time graced by an intensely poetic dialogue: a rare happy-marriage between Philosophy and Poetry. Besides that, the highlight is Maria Casares (chosen by Cocteau after her unforgettable performance in Robert Bresson’s “Les Dames Du Bois De Boulogne”, five years earlier), wonderfully portraying “Death”.
Jean Cocteau had previously filmed the slower but wonderfully visual “Beauty And The Beast” (1946), assisted by Renè Clement, whose “Forbidden Games” (1952) also deserves a honourable mention.
Angelo Francesco Lavagnino’s funeral march which opens and closes Orson Welles’ “Othello” (1952) is among my favourite pieces of music-with-images, but throughout this amazing film the immensity of Welles’ talent as a director and as an actor, shines even more brightly than in his deservedly-praised “Citizen Kane”.
William Dieterle’s “The Devil And Daniel Webster” (a.k.a. “All That Money Can Buy”) (1941) offers an oblique reinterpretation of the Faust myth, set in rural America. The film’s climax is a visually powerful trail decided by the oddest jury you will ever see on this (or any other) world.
A friend of mine keeps saying that my eyes remind her of Richard Attenborough’s in John Boulting’s “Brighton Rock” (1947) and although the character he portrays is among the most loathing human beings I can think of, his glaze is so terrific that I am inclined to take the comparison as a compliment. “Brighton Rock”’s ace sequence is the finale, a crucial moment in every work of Art, here so ingenious and breathtakingly unexpected. to remain engraved onto the viewer’s brain. Forever.
The most eminently personal, intimate, ineffable of feelings, love is mis-portrayed in most films as a nauseating cocktail of sugar, tears, flesh and unexpected events. Incarnated by a magic performance of actress Celia Johnson, in David Lean’s “Brief Encounter” (1945) love is finally skeletal, divested of any fake and frighteningly pure.
Thorold Dickinson’s “Queen Of Spades” (1949) has an elegance and a technical virtuosity in a class of its own, enhanced by the eccentric vibrations generously supplied by two majestic actors of the calibre of Dame Edith Evans and Anton Walbrook.
There is no other film I have seen more times than Carol Reed’s “Odd Man Out” (1947). I adore it so intensely that I would kindly ask to be buried with it, whenever Time will call my name. I had previously found James Mason a competent actor, but hardly a first-rate catalyst of strong emotions, but his performance here is so powerful, passionate and intense, that I was forced to revise my opinion on him. In 1948 Carol Reed would film another recommended film, “The Fallen Idol” and in 1949 would complete an extraordinary trilogy with his most famous opus, “The Third Man”, but he would never recapture the intensity and the pure artistry displayed on the more imperfect but superior “The Odd Man Out”.
“The Day Of Wrath” (1943) has been one of the main inspirations behind “Dies Irae” and its director, Carl T. Dreyer is my favourite filmmaker along with F.W. Murnau. There is only a way to appreciate Dreyer: to empty yourself and let him flow into your veins with his angular, elliptical, cathartic universe made of a different notion of time and of infinite shades of physical and spiritual grey. The x-rayed human portraits of “The Passion Of Joan Of Arc”, the nightmarish “Vampyr” and the tormented souls of “Ordet” are also recommended viewings.
Georges Franju’s “Les Yeux Sans Visage” (1959) (debut 1960 red.) is not a masterpiece, but has the most poetic ending I have ever seen, punctuated by Maurice Jarre’s inspired theme music and by a delicate performance by Edith Scob, a young actress whose melancholic eyes defy description. Her alien charm also graces another Franju-directed film, “Judex” (a 1963 remake of Louis Feuillade’s 1914 serial of the same name), which is an embarrassingly chaotic disaster of a movie, but includes an incredibly powerful sequence – a masquerade ball with all guests wearing giant bird heads – which MUST be seen to be believed.
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