SHOCK talks to Cadabra Records’ Jonathan Dennison and snags a preview of their latest, Lovecraft-rich release.
Real nightmares are not marketable, Jonathan Dennison counters when SHOCK inquires why the average horror fan should muster up a bit of excitement for the exquisitely actualized, appropriately weird THE HOUND & THE MUSIC OF ERICH ZANNa record that serves as both the second release from Cadabra Records, the idiosyncratic label Dennison founded to exhume the works of influential horror genre icons into the spoken arts, and the first time H.P. Lovecrafts stories have been performed on vinyl in over thirty-five years. Something like this, he adds, definitely separates the serious connoisseur of horror and the weird from your typical whats-trendy-now fan.
Intrigued? Check out an EXCLUSIVE stream of an excerpt from the Cadabra production of The Music of Erich Zann below.
The elements and environment of The Hound make for a great introduction for people new to Lovecraft, Dennison explains. Structurally, its an easy story to follow and hits hard right out of the gateand also includes the first mention of the Necronomicon, which is now a household name amongst horror fans. But The Music of Erich Zann is, even by his own estimation, one of Lovecraft’s greatest stories.
Cadabra, it turns out, is the natural outgrowth of a lifelong love affair with the dark side. I cherish my memories of laying on the floor as a kid, watching Creature Features with my Remco monsters figures around me, he says recounting how horror films led him to nightmarish comics. From there it was simply a matter of following the metaphorical blood droplets to dark art and literature and music and more.
The enterprising future label head realized an untapped resource existed to marry everything from the uniquely odd to the utterly grotesque to an esoteric medium capable of transporting modern listeners on a journey of discovery into a place thats best heard, and seen, with your imagination.
The initial Cadabra release, WHERE IS ABBY? & OTHER TALES, paid homage to the obscure, chilling, wonderful Chips and Shavings stories of iconic WEIRD TALES mainstay and underground horror illustration legend Lee Brown Coye (1907-1981)the subject, incidentally, of the excellent 2015 Feral House tome PULP MACABREvia affecting readings by the late trailblazers son, Robert.
The process of taught Dennison a great deal about conceptualizing and executing a record and the successful navigation of that learning curve can be seen on the ambitious THE HOUND & THE MUSIC OF ERICH ZANN, the first in a planned series of Lovecraft LP releases: First and foremost, actor Andrew Lemanpossessing more than a passing familiarity with the material as a founding member of the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Societyslays a performance deftly accentuated by atmospherics courtesy Teratoma Sound Lab. And then theres the gorgeous physical presentation: 150-gram vinyl ensconced in a gatefold tip-on old style jacket featuring unsettling artwork by Alan BrownAlan just hit the reset button on Lovecraft art as we know it, Dennison enthusesand housing an edifying eight-page booklet by esteemed Lovecraft scholar S.T. Joshi, author of H. P. LOVECRAFT: THE DECLINE OF THE WEST, I AM PROVIDENCE: THE LIFE ANS TIMES OF H.P. LOVECRAFT, and LOVECRAFT AND AN AGE IN TRANSITION.
The vinyl format is a thing of beauty and I intend of taking full advantage of it, Dennison says, adding, I do think this Lovecraft collection will nicely complement vinyl lovers bookshelves. Much care has been put into this record as well as upcoming volumes. In upcoming releases you will see unique art from artists not yet circulated in the music industry. This is the first time Lovecraft has had such treatment since the David McCallum performed his work for Caedmon Records.
The best, of course, goes on. Leman has finished The Lurking Fear and is preparing to track Pickmans Model and The Picture in the House. Joshi has read a volume of Clark Ashton Smith poems Cadabra will release this May.
From inception, things are moving fast, Dennison says. I released my first record this past August, and now I’m about to send our sixth record off to press. Within the next year Cadabra will be very diversified in the sense of genres, but our releases will always be rooted in one form of nightmare or another.