Sound SHOCK: Exclusive Preview of Cadabra Records’ Adaption of Lovecraft’s ‘The Music of Erich Zann’

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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 ZANN—a 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. Lovecraft’s 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 what’s-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, it’s an easy story to follow and hits hard right out of the gate—and 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.
Much later, Dennison developed an interest in vinyl editions of spoken word performances and dramatic radio shows, but noticed a dearth of material when he attempted to seek out something dread-inducing in that vein.

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 that’s 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 MACABRE—via affecting readings by the late trailblazer’s 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 Leman—possessing more than a passing familiarity with the material as a founding member of the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society—slays a performance deftly accentuated by atmospherics courtesy Teratoma Sound Lab. And then there’s the gorgeous physical presentation: 150-gram vinyl ensconced in a gatefold tip-on “old style” jacket featuring unsettling artwork by Alan Brown—“Alan just hit the reset button on Lovecraft art as we know it,” Dennison enthuses—and 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 “Pickman’s 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.”