Algernon Blackwood, The Willows LP - Read by Robert Lloyd Parry, score by Chris Bozzone
Clear vinyl with blue swirl
* Limited pressing on 150 gram vinyl
* Printed on a deluxe heavy weight gatefold tip-on jacket
* Includes liner notes by S. T. Joshi
* Newly commissioned art by Dylan Garret Smith
If there's a finer tale than Algernon Blackwood's "The Willows" in the annals of weird fiction, a reader would be hard-pressed to discover it. Not for nothing did H.P. Lovecraft say of the author that Blackwood was "the one absolute and unquestioned master of weird atmosphere" in his treatise, "Supernatural Horror in Literature," while specifically mentioning "The Willows" as the Blackwood tale foremost with to be reckoned, as in in it, "art and restraint in narrative reach their very highest development, and an impression of lasting poignancy is produced without a single strained passage or a single false note."
Thus, only a reader of equal aplomb such as Richard Lloyd Perry could therefore only serve to take something special and render it superlative and here, he absolutely does so. When reading Blackwood's "The Willows," one is limited by one's own imagination, but on this recording, one has Perry's intuitive and creative interpretation to reveal what subtleties the average reader might have missed.
In the first section of "The Willows," Perry captures the joy of travel and the sad-yet-smiling rueful acceptance one has to its humorously exasperating vagaries. There's a sense of laughter in his delivery, though that soon turns from bemused to befuddled to fearful, and the wave of emotions ridden by the narrator soon becomes the listener's own. By the time Perry has finished, nearly shredded his voice so intensely yelling, "We must get away! We must get away NOW!", the listener has ripped off their headphones and made a hasty, panicked run toward the door and away from their stereo.
And, really and truly
– this is a record for which headphones are an absolute must. Not only for the subtle gradations of Perry's narrative intensity, but for Chris Bozzone's audio work, as well. Bozzone's score is integrated with sound design so thoroughly, one would go mad attempting to discover how its Moebius strip begins or ends.
Intertwined together are Mellotron choirs, burbling synths, and harpsichord plucking's, but also the sounds of the story itself. A distant, omnipresent gong; persistently intense wind; and the swirling rush of the Danube are all in, around, and beneath Perry's narration and Bozzone's score both. All of this incorporates itself into a listening experience where all that's lacking is the scent of a driftwood campfire or the mist from the river's spray. At its end, you might find yourself wondering why the footing beneath you isn't a sandy beach.