- CLOUD 039 -

First released back in August of 2007, ‘The King In Yellow’ by ‘The Society Of The Yellow Sign’ is a concept album that incorporates both spoken word readings amongst purposefully composed songs, all inspired by Robert W. Chambers’ ‘The King In Yellow’ (1895) mythos.  Created and compiled by Steve Lines from Rainfall Books / Records, the CD uses Joseph S Pulver as well as Robert M Price and the ‘Stormclouds’ for much of the content.  The CD was limited to just 200 pressings.

Track One: Journey to Carcosa – Running Time 1:12
The CD begins with a weirdly atmospheric intro; a swirling mass of ticking clocks and a brief sampled snippet of Melanie Townsend’s vocals from the song ‘Lost Carcosa’ by the Stomclouds that appears in its entirety later on.  Indeed, this fragmented sampling from various musical tracks is a recurring theme utilised throughout the CD.

Track Two: Arrival in Carcosa – Running Time 2:21
Throughout this track the listener is subjected to an unnerving overlapping of vocal readings from a variety of readers inducing a strange array of disorientating madness, marking the commencement of the journey to Carcosa.  “If madness has a colour, what colour do you think it is?”

Track Three: Cassilda's Song – Running Time 2:48
Here we have the first proper full-length song, performed by the Stormclouds, vocalising the words from ‘Cassilda’s Song’ which formed Act 1 Scene 2 of Robert W. Chambers’ imaginary play entitled ‘The King in Yellow’.  Particularly ‘All About Eve’ in sound, the song is enchanting but at the same time ever so vaguely haunting – like a Siren, almost mesmerising in its strange beauty.  One of the early highlights to the entire CD.

Track Four: The Waltz of the Veiled King
– Running Time 2:41
In a similarly alluring fashion, Karda Estra’s strangely beautiful instrumental track sounds like it would be perfectly at home during a sad and reflective scene in during James Cameron’s film ‘Titanic’ (1997).  For accompanying music to the Veiled King’s Waltz, the end result is perfectly in fitting with the tone and atmosphere of this collective project.

Track Five: Lost Carcosa (Fragment I) – Running Time: 0:44
This is the first of two odd fragments from the Stormclouds’ song ‘Lost Carcosa’ that appears in its entirety in a couple of tracks time on the CD.  With the short sample from the track layered over some organic-sounding synthesiser notes and wind-like effects, this short little interlude is yet another example of creator Steve Lines putting his thoughts to setting a mood for the entire collection, rather than simply putting one track after the next.

Track Six: Carcosa – Running Time 1:16
Here we have a reading of US writer and poet Richard L. Tierney’s poem ‘Carcosa’ that appeared in his book ‘Collected Poems: Nightmares And Visions’ (1981).  The poem is read by Susan McAdam, over quite minimal keyboard work and effects.  The end result it must be said is something that sounds remarkably 80’s in feel; like something that would be dubbed on to a ‘Conan The Barbarian’ (1982) sequel.  Nevertheless, it works in its strange and alluring charm.

Track Seven: Lost Carcosa – Running Time 4:25
The Stormclouds are back with their ‘All About Eve’ sound, knocking out a sad song with an odd ‘Nick Cave’ vibe lingering on its unavoidably depressing tone.  An acoustic guitar, fuzzy electro-acoustic guitar, dampened drums and a harmonica make for a somewhat calming track, with Townsend’s intoxicating vocals delivering the word ‘Carcosa’ in such a mesmerising and enchanting way that it’s draw is near irresistible.

Track Eight: Postscript: The King in Yellow – Running Time 2:31
Here the CD goes back to another atmospheric reading of ‘Yellow Sign’ inspired poetry.  Susan McAdam reads the dream-like passage over eerie effects whilst accompanied by a haunting organ.  The end result is something that feels almost perfectly in line with Chambers’ original writings.  This is undoubtedly where the CD works to its absolute best.

Track Nine: The Yellow Sign – Running Time 2:39
Indie rock band ‘Black Monolith’ break the atmospheric vibe with their 90’s sounding fuzzy rock number; light-heartedly raising the tone whilst singing about the ‘Yellow Sign’.  Certainly not the most interesting addition to the CD.  If anything – perhaps even verging on bland and irritating for some.

Track Ten: Journey To Leng – Running Time 2:20
Thankfully we return back to another excellently executed reading, this time both written and spoken by the CD’s compiler Steve Lines.  Alongside the reading (which is done through a mildly distorted FX unit) expect the usual swirling atmospheric sounds that accompany the spoken words to fittingly well.  Another perfect example how the CD works to its absolute best.

Track Eleven: Behind The Mask – Running Time 3:59
Indie rock band ‘Childe Roland’ jump in next with a catchy rock number with their distinctive guitar sound and another 90’s indie rock vibe.  However lyrically the track is utterly addictive listening.  And ‘Childe Roland’ have managed to complement the words (by Steve Lines) strangely well.  It’s a grower.  Funky and intriguing with an easy-to-get-into foot-tappingly-entertaining sound.

Track Twelve: Lost Carcosa (Fragment II) – Running Time 0:42
Here we have the second fragment of the Stormclouds’ song ‘Lost Carcosa’ with more atmospheric overdubbing to create a fitting interlude between tracks.  Very much in the same vein as Track Five on the CD, the interlude forms an atmospheric bridge between tracks, whilst keeping the overall sound of the entire collection in tune with itself.

Track Thirteen: Hali (The Lake Of Lost Souls) – Running Time 3:58
Solo artist Lodovico Ellena sings the next song; once again with words by Steve Lines.  Electro-acoustic guitar, bass and organ make up a surprisingly fitting track, with a dreamlike flow and a ‘Nick Cave and the Badseeds’ downbeat feel. What’s more, it feels perfectly at home here.  Snuggled in tightly amongst the strange, dreamlike weirdness of the ‘Yellow Sign’.

Track Fourteen: What Sad Drum – Running Time 2:42
Speaking of downbeat...next we have Steve Lines’ reading of ‘What Sad Drum’.  Utterly depressing and drenched in misery.  Lines’ voice is suitably low and devoid of any emotion.  Its atmosphere is perfect.  It’s bleak and without hope.  Another prime example of how the audio tracks can (and often do) deliver the goods to absolute perfection.

Track Fifteen: The Pallid Mask – Running Time 3:54
US folk band ‘The Petals’ step up next for their acoustic number accompanying more words by Steve Lines.  Very close to the sound of the ‘Stormclouds’, the track certainly seems in tune with the rest of the CD, but unfortunately fails to stand out in any noticeable way.  As such the listener can forget the track quite quickly; its presence on the CD feeling more like a filler than anything else.

Track Sixteen: Hali (Fragment I) – Running Time 1:00
Another interlude-style fragment – this time fabricated from Lodovico Ellena’s track ‘Hali (The Lake Of Lost Souls)’.  Cut-up, layered, warped and made into a strange stitching of its former self; it makes a good short interlude to keep everything feeling as part of one larger picture – which it hopefully has successfully achieved by this stage.

Track Seventeen: Cassilda’s Song – Running Time 3:38
Childe Roland returns, this time with an acoustic number with yet more words written by Steve Lines.  The sorrowful track flows over peaks and troughs to produce a strangely haunting song that once again slots in nicely with the rest but neither stands out nor feels like a particular let down.

Track Eighteen: The Waltz Of The Unveiled King – Running Time 2:43
Karda Estra’s earlier dreamlike music goes through a warping remix by ‘Rustic’ Rod Goodway to produce a weirdly addictive instrumental track that successfully encapsulates the very feel and essence of the entire album.

Track Nineteen: Cassilda’s Song – Running Time 1:55
Finally, US writer and Lovecraft expert Robert M Price reads his own words for this last take on Cassilda’s Song, accompanied by strange crashing waves and the smallest of snippets from Karda Estra’s music returning for one last bow.  A perfectly fitting way to close the collection off with.

All in all the CD is undoubtedly an absolute triumph of atmospherically addictive listening that’s perfectly in keeping with Chambers’ whole ‘Yellow Sign’ mythos.  Creator, Steve Lines, has put particular thought to making the whole CD that of a concept album, with each track (hopefully) working in harmony with each other – short interludes inserted to keep the tone and form bridges between tracks.  And it works.  Hell does it work!  This is one that anyone who enjoyed Chambers’ ‘The King In Yellow’ (1895) mythos will want to hear, if not own their own copy.

The CD runs for a total of 47 minutes.

© DLS Reviews



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