A Journal Of The Dark Arts

Horrorscores: The Parlour Trick – A Blessed Unrest


“You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. … No artist is pleased. [There is] no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others”

– Martha Graham

Welcome to another edition of Horrorscores, where we transform yr waking thoughts into living nightmares! Today, the first day of October, we kick off the haunting month with the haunted Victorian chamber music of The Parlour Trick – A Blessed Unrest.

The Victorian era was an interesting time, obsessed with the Future, with the onslaught of new inventions and technologies, electric light holding the shadows at bay, wax cylinders capturing dead voices in beeswax grooves. At the same time, the Victorians were obsessed with death and the afterlife, with spiritualism running rampant, table-knocking seances by candelight, communing with the dead.

The Victorian era also gave birth to the first recording technology, the Magic Eye and aforementioned wax cylinders, giving birth to the haunted universe we now inhabit.

The Parlour Trick, the duo of Dan Cantrell and Meredith Yayanos beautifully capture the layered spirit of the late 1800s, combining drawing room chamber music with a hint of retro-futuristic sci-fi, with Meredith Yayano’s theremin.

First of all, A Blessed Unrest is glorious post/chamber rock, in the spirit of Rachel’s, with masterful string arrangements courtesy of Dan Cantrell (ed. note: Meredith Yayanos got in touch to let us know that she’s the one responsible for all the string arrangements, as well as being the creative director, promoter, and manager. Dan Cantrell’s responsible for the haunted keyboard arrangements.) Starting with the Satie-esque “Half Sick Of Shadows”, A Blessed Unrest is amazingly accomplished classical music, stacking and layering a staggering amount of acoustic instruments into ghostly sculptures. If only more classical composers were working within the vocabulary of horror, to make beautifully disturbing and chilling images (seriously, folks. If anyone knows of anything else that sounds like this, let us know in the comments).

The sci-fi elements come in with “Mare Desiderii”, with the first sounding of Yayanos’ theremin. Yayanos is of the Clara Rockmore school of theremin virtuosity. This is no mere warbling sci-fi sound FX. Yayanos’ touchless performance makes the most of the eerie, airy microtonality of the theremin, like the smooth glissandi of a cello or violin.

The combo of chamber music and retrofuturism can’t help but conjure images of the infamous fictional detective Thomas Carnacki, The Ghost Finder, by the wonderful and underappreciated Weird Horror scribe William Hope Hodgson.

CarnackiThomas Carnacki was a spiritual investigator, using cutting-edge technology of the time to try and pierce the veil, uncovering the secrets of life, death, and afterlife in the process.

Followed to completion, the image swims into focus: table-rapping Victorian seances, cast in flickering sickly green phosphorescent light from a Tesla coil.

But even more so, like every installation of our Horrorscore series, A Blesst Unrest invites you to hold your own retrofuturistic seance in your haunted laboratory.

I’ve been meaning to write about this gem for a while. I (and many others) consider this a masterpiece of dark ambient chamber folk, that gets better each time you play it. I’ve been listening heavily since last year around this time, waiting for the right moment to share my thoughts.

I thought this would be a wonderful way to kick off the spooky season. This year, I aim to cover something horror/speculative/magickal for each day of October, at one of the places I write for. October is the month where the rest of the world catches up with those of us who live and dwell in the shadows. It’s a time where magick, mystery, and imagination are cherished and valued, and, as such, the importance cannot be overstated.

If our world succumbs to blind rationality, if we lose the ghost, if we stop having chills and let our imaginations run wild, where will the future be? How can we dream?

Forestpunk is a lot of things, including reading between the lines, letting subjective visions wash over us and take hold. It’s willfully letting yrself be possessed by the art, the musick, by whatever yr perceiving, breaking down the walls between Self and Other, all the better to learn and grow and, most importantly, to make vibrantly thrilling art.

So Happy October to you! Make sure to stop by the Facebook page and follow us on Twitter for more horrificness than any sane mortal could stand. Thankfully, we are none of those things. Make sure to tell your friends!

What horror/speculative/magickal items would you like to see us cover? News, interviews, reviews, music, movies, TV, books, comics, short stories! Let us know! We’ll barely be sleeping, bathing ourselves in warm blood to stay awake, to cover as much unhallowed ground as possible for the next 31 days. Let us know in the comments or leave us a note on FB or Twitter!

Also, quick sidenote, if anyone ever sees a copy of this on vinyl for a reasonable price, let us know. Would dearly love to have this on wax!

Meredith Yayanos on Twitter
Dan Cantrell on Twitter

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