Clark Ashton Smith
7/15/2016 - Review by: Greg Watson
Fans of eldritch writings will be all over this and should be
Ahhh, those wonderful folks over at Cadabra Records are at it again. Having released a wonderful H.P. Lovecraft compilation in April of 2016, I was pretty excited to hear this one. Clark Ashton Smith was part of the "Lovecraft Circle" which was comprised of HPL (of course), Robert Bloch, August Derleth, Robert E. Howard, Frank Belknap Long and Clark Ashton Smith, along with a few others that are recognized by some fans of the Cthulhu Mythos and not by others.
A little backstory on Clark Ashton Smith, he was a Californian who dabbled in sculpting, painting and poetry before trying his hand at fantasy/horror writing. He churned out a serious amount of fiction in a 6 year period from 1929-1935. Several of his stories were on the level of Lovecraft with the incredibly colorful and ornate vocabulary that Smith used. His stories were fairly dark but also painted a more intricate picture of the locales where the stories took place. Smith really took the time to describe the localities of his stories so the readers really felt as though they could see the trees, buildings and creatures that populated these places. Anyone looking to get in to his literary material should pick up a copy of "The Return of the Sorcerer: The Best of Clark Ashton Smith".
"Inferno" is a five poem compilation that features a very small sampling of Smith's prodigious poetic output. Read by S.T. Joshi, who is a literary scholar known for his study of H.P. Lovecraft and many other writers of the "Cthulhu Mythos" and other weird fiction, "Inferno" is a really intriguing listen but it left a little to be desired for me personally. The poetry featured on this recording are very solid poetic works and possess the same darkness and colorful vocabulary as Smith's stories do. Joshi's voice is cool, calm and forceful, really capturing the listener's attention and making the poems leap to gruesome vividness. One of the cool moments on this recording is hearing a poem Smith composed about and for his friend, H.P. Lovecraft.
The music on the recording is provided by Theologian and adds a great atmosphere to the poetic works and Joshi's voice. Cadabra have hit home runs with the materials they've released in this field thus far and while I personally would have liked to have seen some of Smith's stories featured rather than his poetry, this recording continues that trend. The atmosphere, subject matter, voice work and quality of "Inferno" lives up to the high standards that Cadabra Records have shown with the Lovecraft releases they've put out already. Fans of eldritch writings that recall lands lost to the eons of time, creatures more ancient than the world we occupy and those who love to have their imaginations tickled will be all over this and should be.
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