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In 2020, Cadabra Records released a reading of H.P. Lovecraft's “The Festival,” a Yuletide tale which includes a homecoming, lights, and a gathering – although all of these are quite different than what one might get from Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol or Clement Clarke Moore's “A Visit from St. Nicholas.” As one might expect from Lovecraft, the short story is one of horri-ble incursions to places where few humans might ever have trod.
|Liner notes||Anima Morte|
|Packaging details||Printed on a deluxe heavy weight tip-on jacket|
|Vinyl weight||150 Gram|
Were one to think that there is nothing less conducive to the spirit of the season than the writing of Howard Phillips Lovecraft, they would be correct, but this inversion of the usual hoary Yuletide tropes results in a delightful story which takes the only-too-common Chrimastide themes of coming together with one's family and engaging in traditions and renders it a damp and peculiarly odorous tale, viscous and foetid in the telling.
That original release was read by Andrew Leman and scored by Fabio Frizzi, and for this new edition, Swedish progressive rockers Anima Morte have taken a turn at the music which under-scores Leman's words. As did the original release, the music which begins the tale is one of beauty and peace, akin to a snowy winter evening spent snug in the parlor, with piano and violin playing gently in the background. This slowly changes until, once inside the home of the narra-tor's people, the music begins to darken and descend, much as the narrator does.
Andrew Leman's narration and recitation of the words of this nameless narrator begin just as bright and spritely as the music which accompanies his voice, but as the music changes, so does the telling which it accompanies. One can hear the indecision and regret in Leman's voice as he relates the story of “The Festival,” and by the time “a horror unthinkable and unexpected” is re-vealed, we can hear the agony and dismay in his delivery. It is a journey into madness, all began with new-fallen snow and the twinkling of stars.
Anima Morte's new score delves into the sonic landscape of Lovecraft's tale. It is one of aspects both musical and of sound design. As he begins reading “Olaus Wormius’ forbidden Latin trans-lation” of “the unmentionable Necronomicon,” our narrator can “hear the creaking of signs in the wind outside,” and so do we, as Anima Morte's music takes on a faint creaking aspect within its depths. Similarly, there will be a gentle chiming which mirrors “the lurid shimmering of pale light,” and a flutter when presented with the “membraneous wings” of a “horde of tame, trained, hybrid winged things that no sound eye could ever wholly grasp, or sound brain ever wholly re-member.” When the creatures in the underground locale begin appearing and moving, the score takes on aspects of fluttering wings, as though these unholy beings were wherever one might be listening, near the ceiling and attempting to find their way outside.
It is at once horrible and beautiful, this score, and Anima Morte's music will cause the hairs on one's arms to stand at full attention as goosebumps run up and down. Combined with Leman's skill at conveying the ever-increasing sense of unease at what the narrator is experiencing, the end result is a story which fairly leaps out of the speakers and becomes something fully visible in the mind's eye.