Mark Samuels, The White Hands LP - Read by Mark Samuels, score by Chris Bozzone
Hand poured splatter edition - 40x copies available
* 150 gram vinyl
* Deluxe heavy weight tip-on gatefold jacket.
* Liner notes by Stephen Jones
* Newly commissioned art by Stephen Clark.
Out of all the tales pressed to wax by Cadabra Records, Mark Samuels' “The White Hands” might be the one closest to the hearts of devoted listeners. Comprising as it does plot point which involve two devotees of weird literature, an obscure writer whose work has the potential to drive the reader to obsession, and name-drops of Sheridan Le Fanu, Vernon Lee, M. R. James, Algernon Blackwood, and Arthur Machen, along with Weird Tales, Samuels' story is at once a love letter to the genre in which it also exists, while also existing as a cautionary tale for those who seek to dig too deeply.
Not for nothing has the vérité of “The White Hands” led to many of its fans searching high and low for the works of Lilith Blake, the Victorian writer best known for her collection, The Reunion and Others, only to run into a brick wall before a kind-hearted soul informs them that she's merely Samuels' creation and neither she nor her works ever actually existed.
“Merely” is a reduction of sorts, though, as when one listens to Mark Samuels reading his own words on this record, one feels as though they're sitting in a Highgate apartment while he himself tells you the story of John Harrington and Alfred Musswell and how the former came to meet the latter and, in turn, match his obsession. The writer's familiarity with his work lends “The White Hands” a realism, as Samuels knows just when to insert a pause, mimic the cadence and accent of another character, or let his voice hitch as he comes to a horrific realization. It is nothing so much as experiencing the tale as the narrator did, slowly but surely coming to a discovery which suffuses the listener with dread.
That dreadful sensation is helped along by Cadabra stalwart Chris Bozzone's composition skills. In keeping with the pre-war setting of Samuel's tale, the composer's music for “The White Hands” looks to Bozzone's piano work as the main emphasis, although it's augmented here and there by synthesizers with gently jangling guitar making an appearance after the death of Musswell, heralding Harrington's true descent into obsession and madness. An almost ever-present swirl of wind-like drone emphasizes the cold, wintery setting in which the heart of the story takes place, as well, leading to a stronger sense of loneliness and isolation experienced by these characters while ensconced in the midst of one of the world's most bustling cities.
For those new to Mark Samuels, you can find his work at Hippocampuspress.com