A Journal Of The Dark Arts
Welcome back to another installment of Horrorscores. It’s finally October, when it seems that the rest of the world catches up with us, and is briefly as obsessed w/ horror as we are, year round.
We like to surround ourselves in dark ambiance, to live like Elder Gods, to walk around inside horror movies. We read horror literature and comics; we watch horror movies and television of all stripes; and we listen to macabre audio, whether that be film music, or dark noise/ambient/classical.
The lovely thing about horrific audio is how it transforms yr life into something supernatural. It takes themes and concepts locked up on the page, or trapped behind the television’s glass, and makes it hyper-real, in glaring garish 4d.
It is easy to dismiss the cosmic horror of famed Saint Of The Wyrd Howard Phillips Lovecraft, with his antiquated, xenophobic purple prose, and it is not until it is taken out of context, perhaps updated for modern times, that it becomes strikingly real, and you get an idea of why Stephen King called Lovecraft the most important Horror writer of the 20th Century.
I consider Lovecraft to be one of the first scientific Horror authors. He was still dealing in shock, awe, and religiosity, but was a staunch, curmudgeonly Atheist. This was the poetry of Dark Matter, of man glimpsing his insignificance through ever more powerful telescopes. This is the sound of the disintegration of the Rational Mind, as it dissolves in Heissenbergian uncertainty, and all that was once so concrete and sure dissolves into swirling clouds of electrons and probability.
This record is the only document of the ambient side project of Thundarr and Belegure, of the band Trollmann av Ildtoppberg. The pair evoke the mystery, magick and menace of Lovecraft’s mythos using a pallet of analog electronics, ritualistic rhytms, traditional instruments, modern classical and a slight dash of doomy black metal.
The first track, Deep Engulfing Ancient Evil Chambers, is like a mixture of monochromatic dirgey dirty post-punk electronics and dungeon synth, a perfect compliment for a particularly bleak role-playing campaign.It’s the longest track, making up over half of the record, and it’s length and the drone-y square waves really set the mood, take you somewhere. It’s like being lost in endless gray fog, or spelunking in forgotten tombs, when the lights suddenly go out. It’s like listening to yr own breath, or the blood rushing through yr veins, floating in sensory deprivation. Lo-fi electronics are especially adept at creating weird, existential moods; like watching a really bad, really good cheap horror film.
The Colour Out Of Space is a modern avant-garde classical piece that deserves to be in an atmospheric haunted house film. Simultaneously soothing and abrasive, tense yet lulling, it brings to mind the faded kodachrome of movies like Burnt Offerings, mixed with 20th Century modernism like Schoenberg’s 12-tone workouts, Stravinsky’s discordance, with some of Keith Jarrett’s Koln Concert loveliness. A special shout-out for exquisite reverb, as most people either slather it on or leave sounds completely dry. It really helps give this a classic vibe.
Cthulhu Fthagn is the most out-and-out terrifying, ritualistic, harsh noise outing of the record. Sci-fi synths shriek like Psycho’s string quartet, on top with a tsunami wall of subaquatic harsh noise and atonal, unintelligible chanting. This is the closest i’ve yet come across of an audio work bringing a Lovecraft story to life. If you’ve ever had any doubts as to how terrifying the master can be, listen to this work. It will add a new dimension to the depraved cult settings of Lovecraft’s short stories.
Azathoth is actually rather lovely, in a haunting, funereal way. A low buzzing chant mixes with buzzing zithers and a rickety pump organ, giving a feel of high ceremony. This sounds like dark magick, soundtrack for a sacrifice, the inverted shadow of Jodorowsky’s Holy Mountain. This is trve ritval, not the bland whitewashed white boy exotica of Shamanistic appropriation. Listen to this at 3 in the morning, or even better, while you are buying groceries, and you may get a sense of what it is like to be one of Lovecraft’s possessed antiheroes, or one of his deranged cultists.
The self-titled final track, named after a madman’s final words in The Rat In The Walls, is the shortest and noisiest of the bunch, like finally succumbing to madness. It’s 1:50 of howling black metal cacophony, a void populated by skeletal birds and wraiths with hollow, hungry mouths and eyes. Is this what we have to look forward to beyond the veil? This is the sound of dark energy.
This short and o-so-sweet blast from the netherworld is the only release from this project, so far. One of the members also makes music under the name Peasants, which i cannot wait to check out, as i am dead obsessed with this record. Or maybe i’m just dead.
Ungl’unl’rrhl’chchch, along with Forestpunk fave Joseph Curwen, are doing a great service, updating classic texts of the 20th century and bringing them to modern eyes and ears. Reading has fallen out of fashion and favor, but it lights up the mind with dark imaginings like none other. We cannot let this artform die. Joseph Curwen and Ungl’unl’rrhl’chchch are keeping the ancient ways alive.