There has been, and always will be, something divisive about the writings of American author H.P. Lovecraft. Many readers and scholars marvel at the world building; the archaic language that lends itself perfectly to the macabre mythos he created. Others will criticise the primary focus on that mythos, with characters often given scant depth and some works left largely unfinished. What is unarguable is the author’s continuing influence on the horror genre, with titans from Stephen King to Lucio Fulci citing his importance. For those still unswayed, or unsure how to approach Lovecraft, Cadabra Records offer a solution, and what a stunning solution it is.
Published in the summer of 1921, The Picture In The House is, depending on your point of view, one of Lovecraft’s flatter stories or one of his most engaging. Familiar in many of its themes, although more mainstream in its horror than much of his works, it is without doubt a story that bridles with suffocating suspense, and this new audio version read by Andrew Leman is dripping with the dark portent so prominent in the author’s writing. Narrated with a bleak flourish that brings chilling life to the text, Leman’s tone rises and falls in unison with the beating heart of the protagonist, as the extent to what he has stumbled upon becomes slowly apparent.
What elevates the recording further is a score from the legendary Fabio Frizzi, the composer behind the scores in Fulci classics such as Zombi 2 (1979) and The Beyond (1981). Frizzi brings a welcome genre flair to the music that gives added gravitas to Leman’s words. Even when listening to the score as a standalone piece, moody images of isolation and danger are brought instantly to mind.
For those uncertain in their approach to Lovecraft’s texts, Cadabra Records’ The Picture In The House is a beautiful, bewitching introduction to a world so prominent in the horror genre; it begs you seek out more works, and tempts you to revisit the mythos. If an experienced student of Lovecraft, this version rewards equally, giving voice to words and sentences so malevolently rich in their construction.