AMN Reviews

AMN Reviews: Various Artists – Mysterium, Incubus et Terror – Music Inspired by Edgar Allan Poe Stories (2023; Eighth Tower Records)

Edgar Allan Poe was one of the first modern writers to incorporate psychological terror and macabre elements into his works. Poe’s exploration of the psyche, obsession, and the dark side of humanity continues to shape horror literature and film today. Indeed, his deliberate pacing and use of unreliable narrators – characters who deceive, have incomplete knowledge, or are insane – have become staples of the genre.

Mysterium, Incubus et Terror is the latest experimental ambient compilation of new works from Eighth Tower Records. It features tracks from Morgen Wurde, Mombi Yuleman, Kloob alone and with Onasander, Rapoon, Mario Lino Stancati, Michael Bonaventure, Lars Bröndum, [ówt krì], and Henrik Meierkord. Each of these interprets one of ten Poe stories in musical form.

At first blush, these tracks – all in the 4-8 minute range – are surprisingly consistent in their quiet approach. There is rather little in the way of dynamics throughout. Instead, each builds tension and apprehension through the use of ominous drones, field recordings, and processed sounds (including many forms of echoes. oscillations, and loops).

But upon further listening, each artist expresses themselves quite differently. For instance, Morgen Wurde’s dramatic and drone-laden effort employs chaotic violin from David Strother in addition to crazed voices. Mombi Yuleman’s take on The Premature Burial has the requisite sounds of shoveling in addition to faint staccato percussion, moaning, echoes, and other abstractions.

Kloob’s pair of tracks include deep chord patterns that, in collaboration with Onasander, are hazily aquatic and foreboding in their oscillations. The chords remain deep but take on a clearer and slow-moving character in the solo piece.

Rapoon’s rendition of The Fall of the House of Usher employs echoing notes and beats that fade under long-held washes of synth and stringed instruments. Interpreting another of Poe’s classics, Michael Bonaventure uses loops to modulate harsh waves and mechanical percussion on The Pit and the Pendulum before briefly breaking into a flourish of horns toward the end.

Mario Lino Stancati’s piece is spacious and unusual, with barely perceptible voices appearing below the sweeping drones. Lars Bröndum takes a left turn with twisted electronics and rough-hewn walls of sound. Berenice from [ówt krì] builds up tension with a repeating and self-overlapping string-based melody in addition to harmonic synth elements. Henrik Meierkord caps things off with a free-form exploration of harsh tones and eccentricities.

Strangely enough, despite all the mind-bending horror underlying these works, I found Mysterium, Incubus et Terror to be a rather catchy and compelling listen. When I finished the album, I found myself wanting to put it on again. Thus, Eighth Tower has once again produced a compilation that stands well under repeated plays.

2 replies on “AMN Reviews: Various Artists – Mysterium, Incubus et Terror – Music Inspired by Edgar Allan Poe Stories (2023; Eighth Tower Records)”

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