Arthur Machen's The Great God Pan 3xLP
Distributed titles: Curated releases and exclusive color-ways from other great soundtrack labels from around the world.
|Liner notes||S. T. Joshi|
|Packaging details||Deluxe triple gatefold jacket|
|Vinyl color||Transparent Yellow Vinyl|
|Vinyl weight||150 Gram|
As read by Laurence R. Harvey, the novella's scope is conveyed in various means, wherein Harvey alters with considerable skill his narration in order to present all manner of intimate conversations and inner thoughts. You see, Arthur Machen's novella, The Great God Pan, written in the waning years of the 19th century, combines the science fiction trope of man meddling in affairs beyond which he ought (as introduced in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein half a century prior) and the pagan mysteries of nature, as explored by Machen himself in "The White People" around the same time.
When science meddles in the world of natural law in stories such as these, the results are invariably horrific and bring ruin upon all who engage with it. However, it is the long tail of destruction wrought by Dr. Raymond's opening experiment upon the young woman, Mary, which resulted in the veil being lifted from her sight and allowing her to see the Great God Pan. As these intersecting stories are related, Harvey's ability to switch effortlessly between straightforward, logical delivery of men of means and science and those who believe in the mystery being explored allows him to properly imbue the material with its emotional heft.
When Herbert says to Villiers, "That woman corrupted my soul," the tone of the reading is very much of "a haunted man, a man who has seen hell." Harvey conveys perfectly the sound of someone who is broken beyond description by his encounter with Helen Vaughan, and the heart of the listener must be hard as diamond to not break at hearing it.
Composer Chris Bozzone stretches his talents with the score for this release. Much as Harvey's reading of The Great God Pan encompasses many voices and emotional milieus, Bozzone's score is just as maleable. The soundtrack to young Helen Vaughan's frolics in the woods is a mixture of sitar and guitar, picked in a manner which resembles a hammer dulcimer. It creates a tone simultaneously psychedelic and pastoral, which brings to mind the possibility of "depths and horrors more frightful still," as is mentioned by Clarke when the events of the story's beginning start to intrude upon the events which occur later.
Bozzone mirrors the pastoral with the urban by taking the percussive nature of the guitar picking and utilizing a similar effect via arpeggiated synthesizer. It's absolutely brilliant, demonstrating that while this story might span decades, the events of one period stand next to each other as though happening in quick succession. Occasionally, a flute will lilt through The Great God Pan, and when paired with a harp during the relation of "The Suicides," is as melancholy as anything the composer has yet done.