October always brings a smile to my face. I love when the weather turns a little chilly, snow dusts the tops of the mountains and the leaves of the trees turn from greens to vivid reds, golds and browns.

I also like October because of Halloween. That is my favorite day of the year. I gear up for Oct. 31 by popping some popcorn and watching Halloween movies almost every night for a month ... usually after my wife goes to bed. (Although this year we did watch the Brendan Fraser "Mummy" and "Mummy Returns" together; she passed on "The Crow.")

My favorite horror movies are of the vampire sort. I can't get enough of them.

My favorite is the 1931 Spanish version of "Dracula." That movie used the same sets at the same time as the classic Bela Lugosi flick, with the Spanish crew filming at night. (Both versions are on the DVD.)

The Lugosi version, and the Frank Langella and Gary Oldman versions, are all great, and I'm trying to get my hands on the Andy Warhol version. I do like F.W. Murnau's 1922 version, which was called "Nosferatu" (in an attempt to avoid being sued by the widow of "Dracula" author Bram Stoker). And I adore Werner Herzog's updated 1979 German and English versions of "Nosferatu," with Klaus Kinski as the vampire.

And don't get me started on the the release of "30 Days of Night," and the upcoming "I Am Legend."

Anyway, I also have a sweet tooth for vampire-sounding music — complete with brooding vocals and techno-laced arrangements.

Which brings me to Dave Gahan, the charismatic Depeche Mode vocalist.

The dream-weaving baritone released his second solo album, "Hourglass" (Virgin Records), Tuesday. And let me tell you, it's a moody little piece of art.

While Gahan will never be able to escape the dark halo of Depeche Mode, his solo works delve deeper into his undeadlike psyche. The stand-out work on "Hourglass" is the seductive track "Endless." Images of full moons, hourglass sands and lovers hidden in the shadows are highlighted with stark electronic dirges.

The opening track, "Saw Something," sets the tone with fuse-box static and creeping keyboards. The angst-filled intros to "Kingdom" and "Deeper and Deeper" could be the distant cousins of another favorite vampire-like band, Nine Inch Nails. And the fang-bearing spiritual dynamics of "21 Days" leads the listener down a bleak path to loneliness.

The insecure lament of "Miracles" showcases Gahan's smooth vocal delivery, which pierces the heart, and brings to mind Annie Lennox's "Love Song for a Vampire" and Jane Siberry's "It Can't Rain All the Time."

When the album wraps up with the winteresque "Down," solitary listeners will find comfort in the knowledge that they are not the only people who feel lonely in this life.

"Hourglass" is Gahan's follow-up to his 2003 solo debut "Paper Monsters," and it could very well be a journal of a vampire who yearns for companionship throughout the centuries.


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