The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath is my personal favorite H.P. Lovecraft tale and so I approach any artistic adaptation of this novella with rather high expectations and a certain grain of salt. In fact, to be entirely fair to Cyoakha Grace O'Manion's soundtrack to the film adaptation directed by Edward Martin III, Iím writing this review before delving into the movie itself. A truly great soundtrack should stand on its own, and in fact can be brought down by the imagery and dialogue associated with it in a cinematic portrayal. |
||While I honestly didn't like The Last Temptation of Christ, I find Passion to be by far Peter Gabrielís finest work. Brian Eno of course played upon this strange relationship between music and celluloid with his album Music For Films which presented soundtracks to movies that didnít actually exist.
Given how strongly I feel about the source material, and how often Lovecraft's stories have been butchered in film adaptations (which I am sincerely hoping is not going to be the case with Martinís version of Kadath), I wanted to take in and review this album before the music is forever associated with visual scenes and performances in my head.
The very good news is that Unknown Music stands very much on its own. Undoubtedly this is part of why O'Manion chose to alter the title in a syntactic remix of Lovecraft's (and by extension the movieís) title. I'll admit I was initially put off by this change in sequence of the classic appellation. However, after taking in the audio she has unleashed here, it makes perfect sense. This is not a literal narrative translation of Randolph Carterís journey through the Dreamlands, but rather an evocative rendering through trance inducing sounds of what it might feel like to be on such an astral excursion. At this tangible intangibility Ms. O'Manion is most successful.
|My use of the words "trance inducing" above should not be construed as an attempt to pigeonhole Unknown Music into the genre of "trance music", nor should the near complete electronic instrumental landscape of this record (save judicious use of Cyoakha's own and, presumably, a few other voices) force it into any sort of "electronic music" or "electronica" labeling. There is rhythm on most of the nineteen tracks, but it is much more the rhythm of bones dropped by feasting ghouls than of the digital drumming of machines. While there is ambience every piece here, neither should one limit this record to an "ambient" classification.
OíManion's take on Kadath is very organic in atmosphere despite the digital means of bringing us there. Unknown Music is really a perfectly reasonable way in which she has designated this work, as it is not music that fits easily into established brands.
Stand out tracks for me as a listener were "Boneyard Fear" with it's eerie low rumbling tones juxtaposed with Cyoakha's restrained by unnerving wails and sighs, "Endless Crawl" which mixes suitably creepy deliberate percussive sounds with more meandering keyboards and distant voices churning into desperate breaths, and "Keep Working" which while arguably the least Lovecraftian of these tunes is actually one of the very strongest with a very steady beat ornamented with diabolical vocals urging the proletariat to continue the endless futility of their toil.
The record grows on me with every listen. In fair tribute to Lovecraft as inspiration, I did find myself becoming startled and a tad jumpy at several points when I listened with the room lights dimmed. Indeed, once or twice, I even found myself looking towards the window as if checking to see who might be peering in.
The City of Dreams
And If I Fall
Sailing Over Sorrow
Ride the Yak
La Bella Luna
Sailing to Celephais
Backwards in Time
Ride it Til the End
Feels Like Sying