Thursday, January 19, 2017

Album review: CLARK ASHTON SMITH The Muse Of Hyperborea

CLARK ASHTON SMITH
The Muse Of Hyperborea
Cadabra Records
Poems collected and read by S.T. Joshi
Experimentation was always the number one underground rule, and if you’ve stayed in touch with this industry to see how many doors can be opened since 1995 you’ve probably been rewarded with recordings memorable for daring to try something they discovered on their own. If you thought the roads you’ve encountered couldn’t continue, consider a new independent label dealing specifically with spoken readings of classic horror authors. The factor setting Cadabra Records apart is that it’s purportedly the first of its kind. Earsplit Compound is taking a chance advertising and promoting this label, having previously worked with recording artists since their inception as a public relations company (Earsplit has since expanded into a distro and indie label called Compound Records). Cadabra’s past releases since their gestation in 2015 include readings of Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Lovecraft and Bram Stoker’s Dracula (read by Tony Todd of Candyman and the 1990 Night Of The Living Dead remake), all released on vinyl. Their latest full length features the poems of Clark Ashton Smith narrated by S.T. Joshi. Some background orientation if these names are unfamiliar: Clark Ashton Smith was an author of fantasy, horror and science fiction who lived from 1893 to 1961. His writings have appeared in such publication as Weird Tales, Strange Tales and Wonder Stories, and have been lauded as having approached the beauty in darkness and death since E.A. Poe. His use of language was revolutionary for its time, with a perception as far reaching as the cosmos and an acerbic sense of humor. Smith himself referred to his writing as a form of verbal black magic, constructed more as incantation than verse. S.T. Joshi is a literary critic and bibliographer who studies Lovecraft and has penned an extremely extensive collection of books on Lovecraft and the Cthulhu Mythos and a variety of other subjects. Knowing this, it’s not a stretch to understand the reason Earsplit is promoting this release and the label making it available for perusal. Not only does it fit the tastes of its target audience but it can expand the horizons of the average fan of brutal and extreme music by treating them to worthwhile classic literature, hopefully making them want to learn more about both authors. Smith’s darkly imaginative imagery and Joshi’s hypnotic, spellbinding intonation make for an experience like you haven’t had before. Haunting music serves as a background to these incantations, though it’s not specified who composed it. All the same this is a bold move to expose metal and stoner rock fans to entertainment of its magnitude, and perhaps the beginning of something that will benefit the underground, taking it to even loftier plateaus of sophistication. The Muse Of Hyperborea is being released on a limited edition run of three hundred releases on red vinyl, so contact Earsplit or Cadabra for info.  -Dave Wolff

Track list:
1. The Muse Of Hyperborea, Side A
2. The Muse Of Hyperborea, Side B

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