THEMES FROM HELL #4: BLACK MOUNTAIN TRANSMITTER - CALL ME COREY
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Those who make it through Call Me Corey will find themselves irrevocably changed by the respective words and music of Matthew M. Bartlett and Black Mountain Transmitter. Call Me Corey, the follow-up to Massachusetts author Bartlett and Belfast musician Black Mountain Transmitter's 2018 Cadabra Records release, Mr. White Noise, continues the pairing's duet of lysergic verse and dark, ambient electronic music. To listen to the pair's work together is akin to opening your mind to a kind of cosmic terror of which you're simultaneously afraid, but too fascinated by to turn away your hearing.
In these eight short pieces, Bartlett reads his work, while Black Mountain Transmitter creates the score behind them. Thematically linked as a series of short meditations on the way in which experiences can go horribly askew when examined closely, the plot of each is linear, but with a sense as if William S. Burroughs had applied his cut-up technique to the works of Edgar Allen Poe and H.P. Lovecraft. The sense of things is all wrong, as if you've begun listening to another dimension's bedtime stories, read by an exceedingly-calm, mellifluously-voiced man who is completely, utterly mad.
Each story's music is perfectly-suited to the piece which it accompanies. The music of “The Hot Blade” is just as wet and sticky as the story itself, while “Night Eyes” has music for the beach, just as ably suited to imagery of swooping sea gulls and surfers as the man with two eyes in each socket – “green eyes, pushed up against one another” – who tears off his own jaw before walking into the sea.
The musical introduction for “The Leeds School” has a music box quality not unlike Charles Bernstein's theme to A Nightmare on Elm Street, but before too long, the music and the reading begin blending together, and by the end, they have become one, Bartlett's voice joining with the wordless choir to become the nightmarish sounds of the story's meddled-with radio.
The album ends with Bartlett's titular story scored with unceasing menace. It's as if the author and Black Mountain Transmitter's work is in lockstep, crafting nearly 14 minutes of ever-increasing tension and fright. Again, the score does more than create just atmosphere, but responds to the story. When the words, “Something was feeding in there – or many things,” are spoken by Bartlett, Black Mountain Transmitter's music dissolves into the sound of thousands of skittering legs and chattering mouth parts. The end result evokes a shudder which works its way from the shoulders all the way to the base of your spine, twisting your body in what might be deeply-felt terror – or possibly, joy.