AMN Reviews: Various Artists – Nyarlathotep – A Tribute To Howard Phillips Lovecraft (2022; Eighth Tower Records)

Nyarlathotep was an earthbound deity in the mythos of writer H. P. Lovecraft. Unlike the other gods in these stories, Nyarlathotep appears in humanoid form and can speak human languages. This being, as an abstract concept, provides a fitting name for an album that brings largely forgotten and mysterious music to human ears.

Indeed, this album is a newly remastered reissue that was originally released in 1997 by the KADATH label, and gathers eight offerings of experimental underground music of that time. As such, the sounds are somewhat retro and analog, but surprisingly fresh despite being artifacts from over a quarter-century ago.

A short haunting organ piece from Kirlian Camera starts things off in an appropriate mood. Ritual Affliction from Tombstone follows, a quiet track centered around a droning loop and with a subtly menacing tone that slowly gets under your skin. This feeling comes to a culmination in The Perfect Solitude Of The Wolf (Song For Bernd Thies) by In Articulo Mortis, which is a simple song with plaintive and dark spoken word passages.

Dagon from Gerstein is one of the more interesting tracks, beginning with spoken word over ominous synth chording. The atmospherics grow stranger as the vocalizations end, with growling textures and effects played backward. De Tenebroso Lacu from Nigredo continues the experimentation with crackling sculpted noise, overlapping voices making indecipherable sounds, and martial percussion.

Tombstone switches up the mood with a short piece of moody synth tones entitled Illusion? T.A.C’s Deadly Nightshade combines sequenced patterns, stringed instruments, drones, and dark chants into an electroacoustic amalgam.

Tantra Music from M.Nomized is by far the longest piece, clocking in at just short of 20 minutes. It begins with deep drones and throat singing. Lilting sequenced patterns and dense synth walls are slowly introduced and build into chaotic formations underpinned by ritual chant. Perhaps Nyarlathotep itself would mock our attempt to rationally understand this piece’s tumultuous structure.