Cinematic sounds from Denmark’s Raveonettes 

After 10 years, four albums and five EPs, fans probably figure that they’ve pegged the sound of Danish duo The Raveonettes — a 1960s-retro monster mash of wah-oohed girl groups, surf guitar chords, Link Wray-booming leads, with a touch of fuzzy Jesus and Mary Chain feedback.

But they’d better think again. Sharin Foo and Sune Rose Wagner’s new fifth assault, “Raven in the Grave,” is their most complicated to date, and doesn’t follow predictable pop patterns.

In fact, Wagner’s key influences this time were the dissonant film scores of Alfred Hitchcock’s go-to composer, Bernard Herrmann.

The guitarist-vocalist — who penned most of “Raven” on piano — is up front about this progression. “There are really no choruses or any traditional arrangements on this album at all,” says the musician, who appears at Bimbo’s on Tuesday, backed by two drummers.

“The only song that has sort of a classic arrangements is “Ignite,” but all the other songs just don’t have it. So we don’t need to cater to any traditions because we don’t care — we just want to make soundscapes that sound beautiful to us.”

As a kid, Wagner got hooked on Hitchcock films, and started to study how the music underscored the creepy visuals. Later, he discovered the equally eerie work of David Lynch-Angelo Badalamenti and Tim Burton-Danny Elfman.

“But Hermann will always be my No. 1,” he says. “Just for movies like ‘Psycho,’ where he did a full score with only a quintet, which was very unusual at the time. That’s why it’s such a cold soundtrack — with just strings, it’s such a cold sound.”

The cinematic concept isn’t new.

“My initial idea, even back when we made our first EP ‘Whip It On!’ was to have little snippets of film scoring between our songs, our own little ‘Psycho’ shower scenes,” Wagner says.

So he went mad-scientist crazy on “Raven”: “Recharge & Revolt” hammers a single synth-guitar motif, “Evil Seeds” scales a minor-chorded cliff and “War in Heaven” builds into a truly hellish crescendo.

“The whole war idea was taken from Herrmann,” Wagner says. “And also from the composer Wagner, and his prelude to ‘Tristan and Isolde.’ In classical music, if you have ascending chromatic notes, it symbolizes life, descending ones, death. So we overdid it and used 10 descending notes to really make a point that it was death.”

The Raveonettes want to be synonymous with experimentation. “We need to keep evolving,” Wagner says. “Or at least do something different, or something we haven’t done in a while. We just can’t make the same album twice.”


The Raveonettes

Where: Bimbo’s 365 Club, 1025 Columbus Ave., San Francisco
When: 10 p.m. Tuesday
Tickets: $25
Contact: (415) 474-0365,,

About The Author

Tom Lanham

Pin It

More by Tom Lanham

Latest in Pop Music & Jazz

© 2019 The San Francisco Examiner

Website powered by Foundation