Founded in 2015, Cadabra Records is an unforgettable, boundary-pushing imprint that presents the greatest weird, fantastic, macabre, and experimental cult fiction ever written. By complementing memorable spoken-word-style readings with imaginative soundscapes, arresting imagery, and high-quality materials, Cadabra creates an audio-visual experience that is fully immersive with its vinyl-only releases.
The label has a distinct identity. The beautifully made and lavishly put-together records spring from founder Jonathan Dennison’s potent vision. As the first label to cater exclusively to weird fiction, Cadabra takes care to present classic horror stories – by the likes of H.P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe and Thomas Ligotti – in a dynamic and original way, while respecting their historical importance. The stories are brought to life by an eclectic mix of extraordinary voice actors that includes Andrew Leman, Anthony D.P. Mann, Laurence R. Harvey, Jon Padgett and more. These releases blend weird fiction with penetrating, atmospheric musical scores by world-class composers such as Fabio Frizzi, Maurizio Guarini (Goblin), Anima Morte, Chris Bozzone and many others. Peerless art by the likes of Jeremy Hush, Karmazid, Joe Keinberger, Zakuro Aoyama and many more adorns the record sleeves in Cadabra’s catalog.
Designed for listeners today as well as future generations, Dennison chooses material that is singular, entertaining, and that translates well to the audio form. He goes to great lengths to make sure every aspect of each release is just right. “With the voice actor, I choose an authoritative, believable voice that fits the work’s tone, he says, “Then I look for a composer, who can capture the feel of the story sonically and enhance the reading, while being faithful to the material. With the artwork, we need a definitive piece that summarizes and immortalizes the story in a single image."
The label also releases a compelling and unusual assortment of other offerings, including collections of strange, surrealist short stories; darkly psychedelic poems; occult full-cast audio plays; instrumental records inspired by classic literature; esoteric masterpieces that have never before been adapted for the audio format; and even a Victorian collection of mourning and death poems.
Before starting Cadabra Records, Dennison wondered if he could create a spoken-arts label that fused what people like about soundtracks with what they like about horror fiction. Dennison’s background in both art and music gives him insight into working with musicians and artists and it enables him to draw outstanding work from his carefully chosen theatrical, sonic and visual talent.
Now, with over sixty releases in under five years, Cadabra Records continues to grow, mutate, and expand at a rapid-fire pace, while maintaining the consistently high quality production values for which the label is known. “For vinyl collectors, getting a record they can hold in their hands is the coolest way to be introduced to an author they would have otherwise never read," he notes. "You can appreciate the work on a whole different level." With each release, the visionary label elevates the blend of narration, music, and visuals to the level of art. "I’m always experimenting and trying to push the medium to places that nobody really has yet,” Dennison says.
Cadabra Records is part of the permanent collection of The Library of Congress and The British Library and is recognized for its contributions to literary culture and historical significance.