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TRACK LISTING

Latitude 76° 15’, Longitude 113° 10’ E.

The Dead City

Crossing the Threshold (Into the Garden of the Gods)

Forbidden and Inhuman Secrets

The Evolution of the Shoggoth:

​    I. Cultivation

    II. Acceleration

   III. Revolution

   IV. The War of Re-Subjugation

Across Black Seas of Infinity...

"The hollowed layer was not more than seven or eight feet deep but extended off indefinitely in all directions and had a fresh, slightly moving air which suggested its membership in an extensive subterranean system. Its roof and floor were abundantly equipped with large stalactites and stalagmites, some of which met in columnar form: but important above all else was the vast deposit of shells and bones, which in places nearly choked the passage. Washed down from unknown jungles of Mesozoic tree ferns and fungi, and forests of Tertiary cycads, fan palms, and primitive angiosperms, this osseous medley contained representatives of more Cretaceous, Eocene, and other animal species than the greatest paleontologist could have counted or classified in a year. Mollusks, crustacean armor, fishes, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and early mammals - great and small, known and unknown. No wonder Gedney ran back to the camp shouting, and no wonder everyone else dropped work and rushed headlong through the biting cold to where the tall derrick marked a new-found gateway to secrets of inner earth and vanished aeons."

- H.P. Lovecraft, At the Mountains of Madness

The year is now 2018, twelve years following the release of The Shadow-Haunted Outside, this album was supposed to be the Lovecraft Trilogy finale and, to be quite honest, So Comes The Yawning Darkness was a direct tie-in to that album whereas this album became something completely new and different. The Secrets of Vanished Aeons was a title I picked straight from the pages of Lovecraft's, At the Mountains of Madness.  I was reading that story, at some point in 2007, and I thought it might be interesting to pre-date the other two albums and delve into some pre-human alien history. I reconfigured the album name from the above quote as it came across to me as foreshadowing and I like that effect. I was happy with the name from the get go and it took me twelve years to finally know what I was going to do and how I was going to pull it off. Let's face it, Mountains is Lovecraft's magnum opus and the experience, at first, was like standing at the base of a mountain looking up. It was, at times, overwhelming and had the longest gestation period of any project I have worked on to date. 

I had some down time at the beginning of 2018 and I had decided I was going to use that time to work on TSOVA. I turned to www.deviantart.com for some visual stimulation and what I found was so inspiring that, within a month and a half, I had completed the material for the album. I came upon the art of one Ivan Laliashvili which was nothing short of serendipitous. His art gave a depth and feel to the dead city in Mountains that simply resonated with me so profoundly that four new tracks were created and three others were completed. I messaged Ivan on Deviant Art several times literally begging for the use of his artwork to accompany my album. I honestly did not want to release it any other way if I didn't have to. So after three months it dawned on me to try finding him on Facebook, which I did. Much to my delight Ivan was very positive and supportive of the idea and gave me his blessing to use his magnificent art. 

Even with my newfound inspiration and excitement, my approach was to read and re-read the story and soak up as much detail as possible. There are many components to the story which I needed to consider in creating this album. Ivan's artwork added many new layers to the spectrum and helped me realize how I was going to approach the creation... though, again, I did not stray from the written page. TSOVA became something entirely different than I had originally envisioned it being and I honestly couldn't be happier with the end result. Twelve years in the making; here's what went into crafting the album, the concepts that both informed and shaped what is now my fourth album in my Lovecraft series.

Latitude 76° 15’, Longitude 113° 10’ E.

"10:05 P.M. On the wing. After snowstorm, have spied mountain range ahead higher than any hitherto seen. May equal Himalayas, allowing for height of plateau. Probable Latitude 76° 15’, Longitude 113° 10’ E. Reaches far as can see to right and left. Suspicion of two smoking cones. All peaks black and bare of snow. Gale blowing off them impedes navigation."

- H.P. Lovecraft, At the Mountains of Madness

At the Mountains of Madness is a very scientific piece of writing. What really made me want to take this project on was how realistic the story is. The story is mostly factual to the point where the fantastic is almost completely believable. There are several components that ground this story in remarkable plausibility; the opening track to the album seethes with geology, meteorology, topography, aerial navigation, and electronic communication. All of those elements are in place as well as a looming and unknown alien sensibility. I utilize foreshadowing heavily in the present tense of this release, the expedition. Lovecraft's writing sucks the reader in and keeps things moving forward with an undercurrent, an icy floe, that leads onward into the unknown whether we want to follow or not. I took notice of this method and did my best to apply it to this release in its entirety. I wanted to begin the release with science and interference... or is it communication?

The Dead City

"The sailor Larsen was first to spy the jagged line of witchlike cones and pinnacles ahead, and his shouts sent everyone to the windows of the great cabined plane. Despite our speed, they were very slow in gaining prominence; hence we knew that they must be infinitely far off, and visible only because of their abnormal height. Little by little, however, they rose grimly into the western sky; allowing us to distinguish various bare, bleak, blackish summits, and to catch the curious sense of fantasy which they inspired as seen in the reddish antarctic light against the provocative background of iridescent ice-dust clouds. In the whole spectacle there was a persistent, pervasive hint of stupendous secrecy and potential revelation. It was as if these stark, nightmare spires marked the pylons of a frightful gateway into forbidden spheres of dream, and complex gulfs of remote time, space, and ultra-dimensionality. I could not help feeling that they were evil things - mountains of madness whose farther slopes looked out over some accursed ultimate abyss. That seething, half-luminous cloud background held ineffable suggestions of a vague, ethereal beyondness far more than terrestrially spatial, and gave appalling reminders of the utter remoteness, separateness, desolation, and aeon-long death of this untrodden and unfathomed austral world."

- H.P. Lovecraft, At the Mountains of Madness

I created the album in two parts: Present and Past. The first four tracks cover a lot of ground and support a great deal of detail and weight from the text. The opening track signifies the approach to the destination - Mt. Erebus. The sophomore track is the discovery of the external visage of an unfathomable aeon-long dead husk of a civilization that couldn't possibly be human. Lovecraft's specialty, as we know, is fear of the unknown, however, in Mountains, scientific fascination is also quite prominent. In fact, fear and fascination are quite balanced in the story (until that scale is tipped) once the city is approached and investigated. It is that balance, or at least attempted balance, that I made a conscious effort to include in my approach to sound creation and project structure. It is an essential propellant in the narrative and movement of the story as well as my project.

 

"In spite of all the prevailing horrors, we were left with enough sheer scientific zeal and adventurousness to wonder about the unknown realm beyond those mysterious mountains"  - H.P. Lovecraft, At the Mountains of Madness

 

To remove it from this work would be equivalent to removing a vital organ needed for function and survival. It isn't a good practice and, for me, it wasn't even a consideration. I envision flying over, even through, the outer structures of the city... overwhelmed by fear of what might be discovered inside and yet far too interested to turn away.

crossing the threshold (into the garden of the gods)

"True, we had become visually familiar with the incredible secret concealed by the barrier peaks; yet the prospect of actually entering primordial walls reared by conscious beings perhaps millions of years ago - before any known race of men could have existed - was none the less awesome and potentially terrible in its implications of cosmic abnormality. Though the thinness of the air at this prodigious altitude made exertion somewhat more difficult than usual, both Danforth and I found ourselves bearing up very well, and felt equal to almost any task which might fall to our lot. It took only a few steps to bring us to a shapeless ruin worn level with the snow, while ten or fifteen rods farther on there was a huge, roofless rampart still complete in its gigantic five-pointed outline and rising to an irregular height of ten or eleven feet. For this latter we headed; and when at last we were actually able to touch its weathered Cyclopean blocks, we felt that we had established an unprecedented and almost blasphemous link with forgotten aeons normally closed to our species."

- H.P. Lovecraft, At the Mountains of Madness

Crossing the Threshold (Into the Garden of the Gods) plumes the cold, dark alien depths of entering an ancient alien city mercifully hidden from our species in the bitter depths of Antarctic mountains. At some point the stillness and uncertainty erupts into an overwhelming symphony of haunting melodies that encompasses every bit of fear and fascination I could personally muster. If I'm honest, I cannot listen to this piece without being overwhelmed by emotion. Fear and Fascination are, again, the key points here, witnessing something that the very knowledge of could bring an entire species to its knees. The fascination to press on while carrying the fear of what you might discover. 

The picture directly above this text was the first of Ivan Laliashvili's works that I had seen. It stopped me dead in my tracks. The image of the city within the mountains took my breath away. It was cold, strange, haunting and quite beautiful! I saw the image and the inspiration to complete the release was there. The effect seeing these images had on me was more than enough to map out exactly the direction I wanted this release to go in, what I wanted to accomplish with it. The great chasms, the churning vapors... it is all present. The air written to be thin at the altitude of the city, it's there - just listen and feel it. 

This track is in two parts as ambiguously mentioned above: a) Crossing the threshold - leaving our world and entering another long dead and utterly alien and (b) The revelation of discovering exactly "the incredible secret concealed by the barrier peaks."  The piece carries the weight of the environmental properties of the text, the previously undiscovered remnants of a long dead alien civilization and both the shock and awe of being there, seeing what was never supposed to be seen by our kind. I had to imagine it would hold a majestic, even regal, feeling through the cold and darkness of the geological presence. The flood of emotion rises in the second half when the revelation is made after which point an even darker truth comes to light. I followed Lovecraft's textual footsteps with my own approach; even though the album is about unearthing secrets... I wanted to leave even more to the imagination. When I close my eyes and listen I experience the written words, the ripple effect of so many concepts and emotions. 

Forbidden and Inhuman Secrets

"The subject matter of the sculptures obviously came from the life of the vanished epoch of their creation, and contained a large proportion of evident history. It is this abnormal historic-mindedness of the primal race - a chance circumstance operating, through coincidence, miraculously in our favor - which made the carvings so awesomely informative to us, and which caused us to place their photography and transcription above all other considerations. In certain rooms the dominant arrangement was varied by the presence of maps, astronomical charts, and other scientific designs of an enlarged scale - these things giving a naive and terrible corroboration to what we gathered from the pictorial friezes and dadoes. In hinting at what the whole revealed, I can only hope that my account will not arouse a curiosity greater than sane caution on the part of those who believe me at all. It would be tragic if any were to be allured to that realm of death and horror by the very warning meant to discourage them."

- H.P. Lovecraft, At the Mountains of Madness

I knew from the inception of the project, years ago, that I wanted to explore the alien history left behind in sculpture and in bas-relief form carved by inhuman hands(?) in the corridor walls of the city. This track is the discovery of such ancient documentation of a seemingly abandoned civilization. It is also the transition from the present to the past. The quote below from the written page is the embodiment of the piece, the sentiment and purpose:

"The things once rearing and dwelling in this frightful masonry in the age of dinosaurs were not indeed dinosaurs, but far worse. Mere dinosaurs were new and almost brainless objects - but the builders of the city were wise and old, and had left certain traces in rocks even then laid down well nigh a thousand million years - rocks laid down before the true life of earth had advanced beyond plastic groups of cells - rocks laid down before the true life of earth had existed at all. They were the makers and enslavers of that life, and above all doubt the originals of the fiendish elder myths which things like the Pnakotic Manuscripts and the Necronomicon affrightedly hint about. They were the great "Old Ones" that had filtered down from the stars when earth was young - the beings whose substance an alien evolution had shaped, and whose powers were such as this planet had never bred. And to think that only the day before Danforth and I had actually looked upon fragments of their millennially fossilized substance - and that poor Lake and his party had seen their complete outlines - It is of course impossible for me to relate in proper order the stages by which we picked up what we know of that monstrous chapter of prehuman life. After the first shock of the certain revelation, we had to pause a while to recuperate, and it was fully three o’clock before we got started on our actual tour of systematic research. The sculptures in the building we entered were of relatively late date - perhaps two million years ago-as checked up by geological, biological, and astronomical features - and embodied an art which would be called decadent in comparison with that of specimens we found in older buildings after crossing bridges under the glacial sheet. One edifice hewn from the solid rock seemed to go back forty or possibly even fifty million years - to the lower Eocene or upper Cretaceous - and contained bas-reliefs of an artistry surpassing anything else, with one tremendous exception, that we encountered. That was, we have since agreed, the oldest domestic structure we traversed."

- H.P. Lovecraft, At the Mountains of Madness

The Evolution of the shoggoth

"It was under the sea, at first for food and later for other purposes, that they first created earth life - using available substances according to long-known methods. The more elaborate experiments came after the annihilation of various cosmic enemies. They had done the same thing on other planets, having manufactured not only necessary foods, but certain multicellular protoplasmic masses capable of molding their tissues into all sorts of temporary organs under hypnotic influence and thereby forming ideal slaves to perform the heavy work of the community. These viscous masses were without doubt what Abdul Alhazred whispered about as the "Shoggoths" in his frightful Necronomicon, though even that mad Arab had not hinted that any existed on earth except in the dreams of those who had chewed a certain alkaloidal herb. When the star-headed Old Ones on this planet had synthesized their simple food forms and bred a good supply of Shoggoths, they allowed other cell groups to develop into other forms of animal and vegetable life for sundry purposes, extirpating any whose presence became troublesome."

- H.P. Lovecraft, At the Mountains of Madness

From the conception of the project I knew I wanted to delve into the history of the alien beings in the story.  Over time I began to focus less on the Elder Things themselves and more on their creation, the Shoggoth, and their relationship with them. The above quote is important as it tells of what Shoggoths are, why they were created and how their slavery was maintained. Over time the hypnotic influence began to wane and the Shoggoths began to develop intelligence and speech (somewhat mimicking the piping of their masters). The Shoggoths then revolted against the elder things, a move that would cause the elder beings to wage an all out war against them to re-subjugate them and restore order. I chose to follow a more scientific and historical path laid out by the story. Let's face facts, At the Mountains of Madness could easily have been a two CD project to encompass all of the story, certainly an account of history pertaining to the elder things. As an artist I had to consider that there's only 70 minutes to work with and if I tried to encompass everything within this story, the project would have become a muddled mess. I refuse to compromise the integrity of the work, Lovecraft's or my own. Mountains is not a story I felt the need to play around with. So the first half became about finding the location and entering while the second half is the discovery of these 'secrets.' Besides, the elder things are there... just listen, their presence is known.

"Of the life of the Old Ones, both under the sea and after part of them migrated to land, volumes could be written."

Perhaps the history and evolution of the Old Ones on Earth would make an interesting project all of its own? 

The Evolution of the Shoggoth:

I. Cultivation

"When the star-headed Old Ones on this planet had synthesized their simple food forms and bred a good supply of Shoggoths, they allowed other cell groups to develop into other forms of animal and vegetable life for sundry purposes, extirpating any whose presence became troublesome."

Cultivation is the very description of the Shoggoth in sound. There are sounds and rhythm that accompany signifying the 'hypnotic suggestion' the Elder Things kept them under to enslave them.

II. Acceleration

"The newly bred Shoggoths grew to enormous size and singular intelligence, and were represented as taking and executing orders with marvelous quickness. They seemed to converse with the Old Ones by mimicking their voices - a sort of musical piping over a wide range, if poor Lake’s dissection had indicated aright - and to work more from spoken commands than from hypnotic suggestions as in earlier times. They were, however, kept in admirable control. The phosphorescent organisms supplied light With vast effectiveness, and doubtless atoned for the loss of the familiar polar auroras of the outer-world night."

Acceleration begins with a sound I created which I call 'Shoggoth Speak' which is an addition or extension to the Shoggoth sounds in Cultivation, but that includes hollow piping sounds as if mimicking the speech of their masters. There is quickening industrial / construction-like rhythm as to insinuate both the skill of their purpose as well as the speed and intensity of their evolving into something more than their intended existence. 

III. Revolution

"I came only just short of echoing his cry myself; for I had seen those primal sculptures, too, and had shudderingly admired the way the nameless artist had suggested that hideous slime coating found on certain incomplete and prostrate Old Ones - those whom the frightful Shoggoths had characteristically slain and sucked to a ghastly headlessness in the great war of resubjugation. They were infamous, nightmare sculptures even when telling of age-old, bygone things; for Shoggoths and their work ought not to be seen by human beings or portrayed by any beings. The mad author of the Necronomicon had nervously tried to swear that none had been bred on this planet, and that only drugged dreamers had even conceived them. Formless protoplasm able to mock and reflect all forms and organs and processes - viscous agglutinations of bubbling cells - rubbery fifteen-foot spheroids infinitely plastic and ductile - slaves of suggestion, builders of cities - more and more sullen, more and more intelligent, more and more amphibious, more and more imitative! Great God! What madness made even those blasphemous Old Ones willing to use and carve such things?"

Revolution signifies the chaos of the Shoggoths revolt against their masters. It is big and loud as any revolt should be... but it is also more primal and hardly organized. The Shoggoths attack and slay their masters without strategy or skill.

IV. The War of Re-Subjugation

"They seem to have become peculiarly intractable toward the middle of the Permian Age, perhaps one hundred and fifty million years ago, when a veritable war of resubjugation was waged upon them by the marine Old Ones. Pictures of this war, and of the headless, slime-coated fashion in which the Shoggoths typically left their slain victims, held a marvelously fearsome quality despite the intervening abyss of untold ages. The Old Ones had used curious weapons of molecular and atomic disturbances against the rebel entities, and in the end had achieved a complete victory. Thereafter the sculptures showed a period in which Shoggoths were tamed and broken by armed Old Ones as the wild horses of the American west were tamed by cowboys. Though during the rebellion the Shoggoths had shown an ability to live out of water, this transition was not encouraged - since their usefulness on land would hardly have been commensurate with the trouble of their management."

The War of Re-Subjugation is a very organized and martial assault on the Shoggoths by the Old Ones. The Elders are intelligent, creative, self-governing and organized and their response to being attacked is to wage a war against their creation to re-establish dominance, control and to keep them in line.

Across black seas of infinity...

This was the very first track created for this album. Through time it has undergone changes much like the dead city itself. Abandonment, weathering... it was eerie enough to close the album, especially after a piece "The War of Re-Subjugation", it seemed like the perfect cliffhanger. Cliffhanger to what though? Who knows. Lovecraft was very much about ambiguity as am I myself. However, this is NOT the end of this journey, far from it... after all, there's so much to explored regarding THE ELDER ONES! So the end of this album will take us back to the beginning... the VERY beginning... say the Proterozoic Eon of Earth's history. The exploration of "At the Mountains of Madness" will continue.