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Various Artists

Howard Phillips Lovecraft – Fungi from Yuggoth: A Sonnet Cycle

Review by Gary Hill

I’ve listed this under “Various Artists” at Music Street Journal, although technically it’s not listed that way on the CD. It just seemed the most appropriate way to do it. The first CD here is a reissue of an out of print album. That album finds Mike Olson reading H.P. Lovecraft’s works over music. It’s not precisely progressive rock, but it is electronic and fits reasonably well under that heading. The second CD wasn’t part of the original release, but actually a bonus to go with the reissue. It has a number of different things. Perhaps the most interesting things are some pieces from the 1930s. Mind you, there were no known recordings of these pieces. So, the songs were recreated from the original sheet music.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2015  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Disk 1
   
Mike Olson – Fungi from Yuggoth (1986-1987)
      
Overture

This comes in quite pretty. It calls to mind something like Mike Oldfield in terms of its lush electronic sound.

I. The Book
More freeform music serves as the backdrop for the spoken recitation. It shifts to weird fast stuff at the end.
II. Pursuit
Faster paced keyboards serve as the backdrop for the next part of the story.
III. The Key
More strange, but rather pretty music serves as the backdrop as the reading continues.
IV. Recognition
The music is darker. It’s slow, menacing and rather alien. The story is creepy at this point, too.
V Homecoming
More weirdness, this is menacing.
VI.. The Lamp
The music here is pointed and sharp.
VII. Zaman’s Hill
Deep, slow moving and quite alien, this is creepy, too.
VIII. The Port
The music here is pretty, and rather tentative. There is almost hope in the recitation here.
IX. The Courtyard
More energized, dark and heavy, with a rhythm driving it, the story continues here.
X. The Pigeon-Flyers
The music here is particularly weird. The spoken elements have a weird, creepy aspect, too.
XI. The Well
Weird sounds are the musical accompaniment here. The speaking here is in character.
XII. The Howler
The music does seem to howl in some ways. This reading is very creepy.
XIII. Hesperin
The music here is rather pretty and atmospheric. Again I’m reminded of Oldfield a bit.
XIV. Star-Winds
“Star wind” is really a good way to describe the music on this piece.
XV. Antarktos
Slow, textural music is the backdrop here.
XVI. The Window
Tentative bits of keyboard music serves to accompany the spoken words on this piece.
XVII A Memory
 “Alien, yet strangely pretty” is a good description for the music here.
XVIII. The Gardens of Yin
Textural waves of sound ebb and flow here. The music carries on in very pretty ways beyond the spoken section, stretching this piece longer than most here.
XIX. The Bells
Although still mellow, the music here is alien and unsettling. It does have a texture like bells, but very strange ones.
XX. Night-Gaunts
This is creepy and quite alien in tone.
XXI. Nyarlathotep
I like the echoey, otherworldly element to the vocal segment here. The music is trippy and echoey, too. It really has a space kind of feeling.
XXII. Azathoth
This is even more space like. It feels like something from a horror film, really.
XXIII Mirage
Ethereal, atmospheric music is the sound backing this recitation.
XXIV The Canal
Alien scenes are painted here, both by the words and the music.
XXV. St. Toad’s
This really has a horror movie texture to it. The tolling bells and other sounds create a creepy backdrop for the horror in the words.
XXVI The Familiars
Another that feels like it would fit well in a horror film, this is more in a character type reading than some of the others.
XXVII The Elder Pharos
Pretty, but still creepy, this has a majestic feeling to it.
XXVIII. Expectancy
There is a real beauty in the darkness on this piece.
XXIX. Nostalgia
Another with a strange kind of beauty, this feels almost welcoming.
XXX. Background
Pretty and rather classical in nature, this is a less haunting piece.
XXXII. Alienation
With an almost tribal, jazzy kind of rhythmic structure, this is a different type of number.
XXXIII. Harbour Whistles
Waves of atmospheric keyboard textures bring an atmospheric space element to this piece.
XXXIV. Recapture
Chiming, echoey kinds of textural sounds make up the backdrop here.
XXXV. Evening Star
Pretty and yet spacey, this is a more gentle piece than some of the others, with an almost bright element to it.
XXXVI. Continuity
This is gentle and quite pretty.
Reprise
This is part of the previous piece, continuing the musical themes. It’s one of the prettier and more progressive rock oriented sections.
Disk 2
                      
Harold Farnese – Mirage (1932)

This piano piece is sort of classical, sort of jazz and very pretty and powerful.

Harold Farnese – Mirage (1932)
The same basic song, this has a soprano female vocal by Maria Jette, bringing an operatic element to the piece.
Harold Farnese – The Elder Pharos (1932)
Another piano piece, this is rather playful in some ways.
Harold Farnese – The Elder Pharos (1932)
Here we have another song featuring Jette’s operatic vocals.
Harold Farnese – Elegy for H.P. Lovecraft (1937)
This is quite a pretty piano piece. It’s very classical in nature, and I really like it a lot.
Alfred Galpin – Lament for H.P. Lovecraft (1937)
Another piano solo, this has a definite classical music element. It’s not really sad, but seems to be more about the celebration of a life than mourning a death. At least that’s the case to my ears.
Jonathan Adams – The Ancient Track (2010)
This chorale piece is very dramatic and quite pretty. It is a live recording.
Jonathan Adams – Sunset (2010)
Another chorale piece, this one has piano accompaniment. It’s very pretty and at the start feels a lot like something that might serve as soundtrack music to a horror movie.
Paul Dice – The Festival (1987)
This piano solo is rather chaotic at times. It actually covers quite a lot of space, getting very mellow at other times.
Paul Dice – The Will of Erich Zann (1986)

This violin solo is pretty and yet still unsettling. That’s just what one would expect for something based on the tale of Erich Zann. There are weirder elements as the song continues, too. Those come in the form of some weird voices or other instrument at play.

Del Merritt – Fill Up Your Glass (2004)
This Celtic pirate styled number is fun. It’s definitely different than anything else here.
 
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