Phantom Cities by The Sodality of the Shadows

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Book by HV Morton (1926) not included.

I like night music, any kind of night music, whether it be the shimmering sonorities of Béla Bartók and George Crumb, Julee Cruise exploring the dark, or the rumbling atmospheres of Thomas Köner. Phantom Cities by The Sodality of the Shadows is night music of another kind, more musically determined than the numerous purveyors of post-Köner dark ambience, with a character defined by weird fiction. The latter quality is perhaps inevitable given the people who comprise the group: Ray Russell and Rosalie Parker have been running Tartarus Press for the past 30 years; Mark Valentine is an author and editor (and occasional publisher) of many story collections, and Jon Mueller’s name has appeared here in the past via the soundtrack CD for the Swan River Press edition of The House on the Borderland that I illustrated. Phantom Cities sidesteps Robbe-Grillet’s Topology of a Phantom City for an older lineage, looking back to Arthur Machen (the group’s name is borrowed from a secret society formed by Machen and AE Waite) and the spectral metropolis of pre-war London photographed by Harold Burdekin in London Night (1934). The music is slow, sombre and reverberant; guitars pluck notes from the embracing dark while Mueller’s drums maintain a funereal pace; sporadic squalls of feedback suggest a deeper darkness, the latent possibilities of unpeopled streets. Mark Valentine had an earlier musical persona as The Mystic Umbrellas but his contribution here is textual accompaniment in the form of 12 fictional pieces, some of which are read by Rosalie Parker over and between the music. This isn’t a collection of readings, however, the album may be taken either as illustration of Burdekin’s photos and the texts or as a work that stands alone. A soundtrack for the longer nights of encroaching autumn.

Phantom Cities
Strange Houses Of Sleep

Previously on { feuilleton }
The Smoke
Two albums
Thomas Köner

Weekend links 280

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Keepers of the Moon by Bill Crisafi.

• More Thomas Ligotti for obvious reasons: Weird Fiction Review now has two Ligotti interviews, one from 2011, and a new one prompted by the Penguin edition of his stories. Also at Weird Fiction Review, two Ligotti narratives: The Night School, and The Red Tower. The latter demonstrates how weird fiction can dispense with character and story and still have a powerful effect.

• Related to the above: Terrors supernatural and psychological: Laird Barron on Ray Russell’s The Case Against Satan; Russell’s novel is also being reprinted by Penguin this month. And at Dangerous Minds: a collection of vintage dolls and ventriloquist dummies.

• “Time and again his books—even as they tell of remote planets and their inhabitants—foresee something perplexingly close to our present-day society, from visionary constructions to machines of destruction.” Strange Flowers on Paul Scheerbart.

Coil’s out-of-print discography gets a career-spanning reissue through Threshold Archives. Related: Russell Cuzner interviews Thighpaulsandra.

• Mixes of the week: The Ivy-Strangled Path Vol. XI by David Colohan, and Sounds From Beyond (October 2015) by Glossop Record Club.

Bill Crisafi: Artist, Dreamer, Feral Mystic. An interview with the artist by S. Elizabeth for Dirge magazine.

• Also being given the revenant treatment, out-of-print short stories by Aleister Crowley.

Alex Mar on the powerful appeal of modern witchcraft—even for a skeptic.

A Rest Before The Walk is a new album by Keith Seatman.

The Wounded Kings set out their stall at Bandcamp.

The Witch Queen Of New Orleans (1971) by Redbone | Witch (1977) by Goblin | Ditch Witch (2009) by Pink Mountain