where black stars rise
The Yellow sign
twin suns sink
strange moons circle
in dim carcosa
the tatters of the king
song of my soul
Between having read the novel, The King in Yellow, by Robert W. Chambers and having seen True Detective: Season One, I was highly inspired to give it all an aural interpretation. I began crafting the first track on the album, The Yellow Sign, it's first form which is not all too far from it's final form of the finished work. That occurred sometime during 2015. Also, the first iteration of a track, The Tatters of the King, was attempted with an unintentional running time of just over 40 minutes. The creative engines went into hibernation and nothing more would become of this project until 2019.
In 2018 a flood of inspiration found the completion of a long gestating project based on H.P. Lovecraft's magnum opus, At The Mountains of Madness, titled The Secrets of Vanished Aeons which was released later on that year. The project was a personal, critical and financial success and I began thinking about my next project. I went searching through my codex of incomplete project files and rediscovered what I had titled, Where Black Stars Rise. At that point I went straight back to the source material, The King in Yellow, and I read... and read. I became confused because initially I wanted to approach the album through the lens of a broken fairy-tale by way of Guillermo del Toro's brilliant film, Pan's Labyrinth, or a similar style therein. But if history has taught me anything, it has to be in my style and merely interpret the story and/or concepts presented by the author.
In 2015 I had Skyped with friend and author Joseph Pulver, Sr. whose literary passion is openly and deeply rooted in Robert W. Chambers work. We spoke for a couple of hours, me asking him questions regarding the concepts within Chambers' story. Joe was very thorough in explaining what Carcosa is, what the King in Yellow is interpreted to be, etc. The information was quite inspiring and instrumental in where I ultimately went with the project. Joe pointed me in the direction of Chambers' great niece, Suzanne Chambers Evans, who was a wealth of information and inspiration in which added new dimensions to my approach of the material. She also became a friend and it was the birth of said friendship that, over the course of a year or more, coupled with the knowledge I acquired from Joe Pulver, truly helped me form and shape this release.
After introducing myself to Suzanne on social media I began to ask about the Chambers family history. I explained to her about the project I was working on and was looking for anything she knew about, and was willing to divulge, about her great uncle that may have inspired his classic novel. As she began learning more about her family, Suzanne was very open about facts, thoughts and feelings. As our conversations collected this information it began to add a more colorful and emotion layer to my work. It directed me and challenged me to try new things regarding sound mixing, recording and processing. I did not want to create an album about a book about a play... I wanted it to come alive!
So the first thing, as I went back to the book, I wanted to define is the core of the novel - what tied the stories together. So in the novel there is an ancient play - The King in Yellow - that drives people to insanity upon reading. So THAT was my core as well... and at the heart of the play, the yellow king what dwells in Carcosa. So then back to my discussion with Joe Pulver, Carcosa is a place that is wasting and dreary. "Wasting", I like that! So specific and yet so ambiguous and ripe for interpretation. So now I had the yellow sign, the yellow king in Carcosa... and the ancient play. So what connects them? So little of the actual play is offered up in the novel itself.
"Cassilda's Song" comes from Act 1, Scene 2 of the play:
Along the shore the cloud waves break,
The twin suns sink behind the lake,
The shadows lengthen
Strange is the night where black stars rise,
And strange moons circle through the skies,
But stranger still is
Songs that the Hyades shall sing,
Where flap the tatters of the King,
Must die unheard in
Song of my soul, my voice is dead,
Die thou, unsung, as tears unshed
Shall dry and die in
- Robert W. Chambers
Now looking at "Cassilda's Song" I noticed the descriptions of strange and cosmic events taking place. Cloud waves breaking, twin suns sinking, shadows lengthening, etc. Also, each verse literally, as well as figuratively, ends in Carcosa. So it became very clear to me why the play would insight madness upon anyone who would read it. And the destination of all of these events, or transitions, ultimately lead to Carcosa... so then the yellow sign would be the call, the beckoning... thus beginning a domino effect leading the reader (or in this case listener) to Carcosa.
The album, in its final form, operates from within the play itself and either guides you (or drags you) to the final destination. The material guided by the novel itself, an expert on Carcosa and a truly interesting family history. It was definitely a challenge to mold and complete this project, but a highly satisfying journey true to the literature that unleashed it as well as to the lives of those behind the scenes that inspired it.