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“Ambient Morgue Music” / Richard Howard

From Weird Tales #354 / Fall 2009
Reviewed by: Daniel R. Robichaud

"The best thing about being a reviewer is that you often receive music in the old fashioned way, via a CD through your letterbox." So begins Richard Howard's contribution to Weird Tales #354 (also available at the website).

In short time, readers are given the background of the entire story. The year is sometime in the 2030s, the reviewer in question operates out of Dublin, and the object of interest is the locally produced Ambient Morgue Music project, currently in its fourth volume. The music itself is a soundtrack for the end of the world: artfully rendered, lo fidelity, atmospheric music. Recently uncovering a contact number that works, the reviewer arranges to meet with the creative minds behind this intriguing project, and the story starts proper.

"Ambient Morgue Music" makes use of the unseen world trope from dark fantasy, here envisioning a society of the forgotten (reminiscent of Bentley Little's The Ignored) who make their home in Dublin's largest park. Not simply dispossessed, these people are trapped in this society, eking out a near-future-yet-primitive existence. Questions abound: who are these people, why they are here, and just what is this music that they are recording?

While the musical source – a revelation that lends macabre definition to the composition process – turns out to be less than surprising, a wealth of eeriness leading up to the anagnorisis rewards a reader's time investment. The presentation of the park and its inhabitants overflows with inventive, bizarre and unsettling ideas. Enough for a few more stories, possibly a novel.

"Ambient Morgue Music" reads like a review, which is interrupted by a vignette, which ultimately returns to a review. The quirky structure feels just authentic enough to have some folks searching the Internet for downloadable samples.

Purchase Weird Tales #354 with “Ambient Morgue Music” by Richard Howard.

Posted on Friday, May 7, 2010 at 11:18AM by Registered CommenterDark Scribe Magazine in | Comments Off

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