I’ve noticed the curious fact that so many bands have recently gone in the direction of Lovecraftian themes in their music, it’s astonishing. Some of them are brilliant.
Entering the Mythos
I stumbled upon a library book when I was around 16 years of age, featuring assorted Lovecraft stories. Though the book was more aimed at New England stories (the witchcraft stories of Lovecraft), it was an immediate succes for my reading pleasures. For years it felt like a nice underground thing, that only the initiated of my friends knew about. It’s the kind of work that makes you feel like you know something others dont.
The mythos isn’t for everyone, there’s a style of writing inate to the work of Lovecraft that is dense, old and sometimes a bit too stale, but it all helps in the proces of scaring you. Not everyone can get that far, which always prompts me to recommend short stories. Lovecraft could astonish you in a 100 pages of ‘At The Mountains of Madness’, but evenly so in a 3 page short story.
The Lovecraft mythos and its impact has even become a topic of some academic/essayist interest with the writings of even a Michel Houellebecq adresses the topic of Lovecraft. The early 20th century pulp writer has become an underground culture phenomenon. Specially in the later decades of past century, Cthulhu is rising.
Not only are there tons of cartoons, re-issues and weird fan art, Cthulhu and other Lovecraftian creations have been part of music (mostly heavy or underground) for a while. Gary Hill documented this in his book ‘The Strange Sound of Cthulhu: Music Inspired by the Writings of H.P. Lovecraft’. It mentions an astonishing amount of bands from all sorts of places, but I feel quite often from the southern part of the USA. I guess the foggy swamps bring about something supernatural.
Musical Reading Support
Though many bands featured mention the fact that they veel their music should stand on its own, I find personally that having a good slab of music to listen to while reading the works of Lovecraft is an entirely cool thing to have. The comical Lovecraft tunes and punkrock probably doesn’t fit very well as material that supports you while reading. Instead you would go for something more atmospheric, heavy and oppressing, leaving classical/postrock/ambient and metal. I prefer metal.
Recently there’s been a boom in Cthulhu stuff, which ranges from audiobooks on bandcamp to strange experimental rock similar to the soundtracky stuff by X-ray Dog. An example of that are these guys:
Triskaidekaphobia would be right up your sleeve if you are interested in more electronic, trance-like material. A bit of goth flavoring and a ton of electronic assistance create something akin to a game soundtrack.
Similarly, the work by guitarist Brett Miller takes on that sound, but more metal oriented and maybe akin to the famous Red Alert videogame soundtrack. Strong riffing, but little other effects. Quite up front, which is not for every reader, and highly captivating.
More out to get some prog in your ears? The recording done by Back to R’lyeh is a worthy endeavour with soaring, big sounding adventure-music. There’s a bit of heavy vocals mixed in their, but overall they sound a bit like modern day Opeth. Good stuff by this Spanish group, but to me a bit too all over the place.
More sticking witht he ambiance of a radio show? Reber Clark supplies the music to the H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society’s Dark Adventure Radio Theatre and more, so he’s well versed in this. You can find a lot of his work online.
A bit weirder…
A bit more odd, but I’m not judging, is the lo-fi surf inspired noise rock by Zpider on this endeavour. Granted, for me the weirdnes of it would be a bit too distracting, but the Burzumesque drones and spiralling sounds may just be what you need to get in that Lovecraftian groove.
So the Suction Cups took that and made it even more weird and silly, with a carnivalesque organ jam that sounds way to much like a party to me, but damn,… it’s captivating.
Thomasz Bylina is a metal musician, but on the side he started doing something he likes to call illustrative music. That is great, because that is exactly what you’d be looking for. The record, titled firstly ‘Teomachia’ is in fact ment as a soundtrack of a game Thomasz is part of developing. How awesome is that!?
Or you just don’t give a tick, give Cthulhu boobs and a vagina that looks like the mouth of Gene Simmons , like Blinding Eye Dog. I don’t know what more to say about this. Lovecraft probably didn’t envision this, but then again Lovecraft was a bit of an old fashioned guy… The music is good in my opinion.
Mind, this is just a pick of recent materials that have been released. It’s not an all encompassing list, but just what I came across.
The thing is, the inspiration that Lovecraft’s work has given to musicians is one of a kind. Even the weirdos from Blinding Eye Dog have clearly read the works and decided to do a strange spin on that. Sure, it’s very different, but the impact is shown. Yeah sure, it’s not thet profound expression of appreciation, but it shows the impact of Lovecraft’s work.