Music made with the inspiration from HP Lovecraft is usually pretty good (with a few exceptions that I’ve seen over the years that don’t even bear mentioning). Lovecraft inspires a very dark kind of music, a very eerie, ethereal sense of nonreality colliding with reality. The music that he and his stories inspire range from dementedly beautiful to downright terrifying. When the music is made by someone who really knows what they are doing and what is inspiring them, the music is going to be good. Case in point? My old friend, Visions of Ulnahar. Having released a new album this past fortnight, Visions of Ulnahar shows me once again what it’s like to use the synth the explore the dark parts of the human mind. But there was something different about Lovecraftian Mystic. There was something inhuman about the music, something that the human mind can’t correctly comprehend and translate. There were layers to this music that upon an initial listen I didn’t notice. The more I listened, the more this strange, evil flower blossomed.
For those of you who haven’t read the interview I was fortunate enough to score back in February (I’ll make sure to link it at the bottom of the page), Visions of Ulnahar came about through something of a fever dream, the mind of the artist. The visions of this Ulnahar are truly visions that he has seen in his dreams and the music on the albums are akin to an attempt to translate and define what was seen. Are they completely accurate? Who’s to say? I would like to think so but even the best of us miss something or forget. Still, an album by Visions of Ulnahar can be counted on to do one thing: open up a Lovecraftian world that none of us have ever really seen before. Even though we know all about R’lyeh and Carcosa and Leng and the Dreamlands, we don’t really know that world. We only know of a few places. What if Ulnahar is a part of this place? What if these visions are the dungeon synth equivalent to the original weird fiction short stories? That puts a heavier spin on it doesn’t it? That’s the seriousness that Visions of Ulnahar deserves. The narratives within the albums will vary of course, as do all such psychedelic experiences, for lack of a better term, but we all see the same basic form on Lovecraftian Mystics. From the strange warbling of “Ishnigarrab fhalma” meant to remind us of the voice of the Elder Beings, to whom we can either swear servitude or die screaming in madness, or the epic “Hastur” the unsettling, 45+ minute track that captures the dread spirit of the original stories, we get to feel something, see something, that makes us question what we see in a normal day.
Now I don’t mean to go Alex Jones on everyone with theories about dimensional planes and what not but I have to say the beauty of Visions of Ulnahar, especially of the latest album Lovecraftian Mystics, has made me think that there might be something to visions and dreams.
I will say this though, despite the music itself being utterly fantastic and well composed, the sound quality of the recording is on the lo fi end. I love lo fi dungeon synth as much as anyone but only if the sound and the narrative warrant such production. Lovecraftian Mystics deserves a cleaner production. Not super clean, symphonic sound, but a less hazy and fuzzy sound that sometimes interferes with the melodies. Maybe it’s meant to enhance the feeling of astral travel and bodily detachment (I definitely felt as though I was travelling somewhere as I was listening and the destination was… well I won’t spoil that for you). If that’s the case I’m not sure it worked. The music alone was good enough to do that, lo fi production, as lo fi as this was at least, hurt the overall feel of the album. If I still scored albums rather than just critically analyzed them I would have to knock off a few points for that. It didn’t take me out completely, but it didn’t enhance the experience.
Anytime I listen to Visions of Ulnahar it’s a visceral experience. I never walk away from the listen the same person. Albums like Lovecraftian Mystic are meant to make you think and ask questions of yourself. I challenge you to think as you listen to Lovecraftian Mystic. What will you think about? Where will the music lead your musing? Would you consider Visions of Ulnahar and Lovecraftian Mystic specifically something that invokes deep thinking? Whatever you believe, give Lovecraftian Mystic deserves a chance to be listened to.
Highlights: Ishnigarrab fhalma, Hastur
If you enjoyed this try: SunO))), Voormithadreth, The Seal of R’lyeh
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