Hodgsonian vibrations


Illustration by Frank Utpatel from the 1947 Arkham House edition of Carnacki, the Ghost-Finder.

“Presently I got hold of myself a bit, and marked out a pentacle hurriedly with chalk on the polished floor; and there I sat in it almost until dawn. And all the time, away up the corridor, the door of the Grey Room thudded at solemn and horrid intervals. It was a miserable, brutal night.”

The Gateway of the Monster (1913) by William Hope Hodgson

“Word falling – Photo falling – Time falling – Break through in Grey Room”

The Ticket That Exploded (1962) by William S. Burroughs

Among other things, 2013 is the centenary of the first book publication of William Hope Hodgson’s collection of weird tales, Carnacki, the Ghost-Finder, and while I don’t believe that William Burroughs was referring to the supernatural eruption that occurs in Hodgson’s Grey Room it would be remiss of me to ignore the connection. Listening this week to Music for Thomas Carnacki by Jon Brooks (he of The Advisory Circle) had me wondering whether there’s any other Hodgson-derived music of note. Lovecraft has inspired hours of musical endeavour while Hodgson’s weird contemporaries, Algernon Blackwood and Arthur Machen, are referenced on some of the Ghost Box releases. Hodgson is the poor relation in these celebrations, often passed over despite the sonic potential of Carnacki stories such as The Whistling Room, The Horse of the Invisible, and especially The Hog, a tale whose manifestations are almost wholly perceived through the medium of sound. Searching around turned up the following examples.


Borderlands (1999) by Tactile.

The House on the Borderland is the big favourite in this list, this album being a series of tracks by John Everall based on Hodgson’s novel. John Balance of Coil appears on the first track, Grief, reading the poem which opens the book.


The House On The Borderland (2005) by Nostalgia.

The same novel becomes twelve tracks of doomy ambience by an Italian group. On the strength of In The Cellar I wouldn’t mind hearing the rest of this.


The House On The Borderland (2008) by Electric Wizard.

The novel again given the maximum heaviosity treatment by this British group. One thing you don’t find in Hodgson’s stories is bare-breasted witches, that was Dennis Wheatley’s department.


Borderland (2010) by Flesh Coffin.

A two-track mini-CDr by a noise outfit whose titles—Swine Thing and The Arena—allude to Hodgson’s novel. The latter can be heard on the Flesh Coffin Myspace page.


Music for Thomas Carnacki (2011) by Jon Brooks.

Originally a soundtrack recording for a Resonance FM reading of Hodgson’s The Gateway of the Monster, Jon Brooks expanded his piece into a complete album which is available for purchase at his Bandcamp pages. I like this a great deal but then given how much I like The Advisory Circle that’s not so surprising.

While we’re on the subject, Hodgson’s Dying Earth magnum opus, The Night Land, is published this month in a new edition with an introduction by Erik Davis. The John Martin-scale nightmares of that novel ought to have inspired some suitably apocalyptic soundtracks. As usual, if anyone knows of any other Hodgsonian music then please leave a comment.

Update: Andy Robertson in the comments directs our attention to his page of links to music inspired by The Night Land.

Previously on { feuilleton }
The Horse of the Invisible
Tentacles #2: The Lost Continent
Tentacles #1: The Boats of the ‘Glen Carrig’
Hodgson versus Houdini
Weekend links: Hodgson edition
Druillet meets Hodgson

5 thoughts on “Hodgsonian vibrations”

  1. The new edition of “The Night Land” looks great! I can’t wait to see what Davis has to say. I was holding out to buy the Ballantine edition(s) but I think this one looks too good to pass by.

  2. I ought to have mentioned that the new edition is abridged but that’s not such a bad thing if it attracts more new readers. Many people find the centre of the book to be heavy going.

  3. Hi Andy, and thanks, I ought to have checked your site! I was less thorough with this one than when looking for Stalker-related music.

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