Two new reviews and an update

So, first up this bright Tuesday morning is a new review of Simon Kurt Unsworth’s Rough Music – this one was written by Walt Hicks and can be found on his Hellbound Times blog. Walt has been a consistent supporter of Spectral Press ever since it opened its doors – so what did he think of the first issue in the imprint’s second year? Find out here.

(Psst – Happy Birthday to Mr. Unsworth, too!!)

Secondly, here’s a review of Paul Finch’s King Death, which appeared in Issue Eight (Winter 2011) of Strange Aeons magazine. I reproduce it here in full with the permission of the magazine:

In the early 1300’s, rumors of a terrible plague began to spread throughout Europe. Entire regions of China and India had fallen, and it seemed death itself was drifting westward. Rumor became reality in 1307 when a Genoese ship pulled into the port of Messina with a dead and dying crew. The Black Plague had arrived, and by 1350 an estimated 50-70% of England’s population had perished.

In Spectral Press’ fourth offering, Paul Finch transports us back to this slightly exaggerated time where the mortality rate more closely resembles that of Captain Tripps than the actual Plague. It is a world no longer in the thralls of death, but a world which has gasped its last pitiful breath, and lies rotting under an unremorseful sun.

Rodric, a former member of the free-companies, has seen his fair share of destruction. Clad in a suit of black mail with a skull emblazoned upon his helmet and shield, he rides through the silent, fetid countryside (on a pale horse no less) ridding corpses of their riches and the few survivors he encounters of their lives. He is a man without honor or remorse. Hardened by war and having grown increasingly numb to the horrors that surround him, he sets out upon his diabolical crusade with little sympathy.

One day, while Rodric reflects upon his incongruous kingdom, he spies a well-bedecked page-boy, half alive and stumbling through the valley below him. Greed spurs him into action, and after his alter-ego cows the boy into a terrified silence, he presents himself as Death, King Death, and demands to be taken to the wealthy lordship he abandoned. In return, he agrees to grant the boy’s final wish, to join his family in death. But once they arrive, Rodric learns that there is a precipitous price to be paid for masquerading as Death, and realizes, albeit a bit too late, that it’s not always good to be King.

While not my favorite offering from Spectral, Finch certainly has a way with words. Though he paints a dour portrait, his brushstrokes are eloquent and unequaled in their execution. Whether describing a wild land reclaimed by nature, or a procession of the decomposing dead, there is beauty to be found. And it’s because of that beauty, that torrid love affair with morose prose, that this chapbook deserves to sit upon your shelf. A worthy addition to Spectral’s ever-growing library, but limited to their standard 100 signed and numbered editions, finding your own copy might be as hard as finding a lone survivor in a time of plague. But don’t let that stop you from jumping on the unearthly bandwagon. Future releases will sell out quickly, so make sure to stop by their website and subscribe, because the terrors you miss today, will surely turn into tomorrow’s spectral regrets.

More reviews coming soon!

AN UPDATE: MUSIKS & MYTHOS

This is just to let those interested in purchasing copies of the series of Lovecraft audio-CDs that Temple of Azathoth Records are producing in collaboration with Spectral that the project has been delayed by two months due to a personal bereavement. The first in the series, featuring two stories from the master of cosmic terror himself (The Music of Erich Zann and Nyarlathotep) and a tale from the modern wielder of Lovecraft’s strange legacy, Joe Pulver (The Delirium of a Worm-Wizard), will now be available from May 2012 instead. More information will be brought to you here as the time approaches for release – but rest assured it WILL be unleashed upon an unsuspecting world…

More news and more reviews

MUSIKS & MYTHOS

To start things off, here’s an update on what’s happening with the first release in the audio-CD series of Lovecraft readings accompanied by specially commissioned and composed music, released in conjunction with Temple ov Azathoth Records. The first double-CD will be released in March 2012 and will feature Lovecraft’s The Music of Erich Zann and Nyarlathotep. As to the modern writer whose story will be featured on the first disc, that honour will go to…

JOE PULVER!!

Joe’s story will be The Delirium of a Worm Wizard from his Sin & Ashes collection, published by Hippocampus Press of New York.  Final details have yet to be confirmed (such as pricing, packaging format, etc.,) but as soon as they’re available I’ll be passing them on. In the meantime, if anyone is interested in purchasing or reserving copies, then please let me know by emailing me, Simon Marshall-Jones, at spectralpress[AT]gmail[DOT]com.

REVIEWS

To round proceedings off, here’s a four-in-one review of all the Spectral Press chapbooks published so far, from writer Alan Baxter and posted to his The Word website – to read what he thinks of them all, just click here. Spectral is indeed continuing to grow – and more reviews are expected soon! Onwards and upwards!!

Musiks and Mythos

As some of you out there may know, I used to run a record label (FracturedSpaces) specialising in strange. avant-garde, atmospheric and weird types of music. I still like to keep my hand in from time to time and in that light (and in a particularly well-favoured conjunction of stars) Spectral Press has teamed up with record label Temple ov Azathoth (a subsidiary label of Somber Soniks Records) to produce the Musiks and Mythos series of discs, which will combine a love of literature with the extraordinary possibilities of music and sound itself.

So, what’s it all about?

Some of the sharper-eyed among you will have immediately been clued in by the word Mythos – and yes, this is all to do with HP Lovecraft. Musiks and Mythos will be a series of ten CDs, to be released over the next few years starting in March 2012, of spoken-word recordings of some of Lovecraft’s best-known stories along with music inspired by his writings. However, to bring it up-to-date, there will also be a modern writer’s interpretation of the Mythos that spawned a thousand nightmares and countless millions of words (as well as secret cults and conspiracy theories) to accompany the old master storyteller.

Each CD will consist of two stories, one by Lovecraft and one by a modern author. There will be two versions of each – spoken-word only and story + music. There will also be a booklet included, with both stories printed within. The first of the series will be released on the 15th March 2012, the anniversary of Lovecraft’s death.

This is the general flavour of what the series is going to c0nsist of – more information will be forthcoming very soon. I’m very excited about this, as it combines two particular passions of mine – music and supernatural literature. In the next few weeks I will be sourcing some contemporary authors to provide the modern material. It’ll be an interesting project, as it will no doubt introduce people to new aspects of music they may not have encountered before, which will also provide a suitably unsettling soundtrack to the cosmic terror that Lovecraft’s so well known for.

Keep a look out for more information soon!