An ode to a cartoon dog crudely shellacked onto a rough plaque of wood found at a thrift-store in Jasper, Alabama in the early 1990s. The eighteen tracks comprising this first album are typical of the 400 Lonely Things method: blurry minor-chord structures, nostalgic sampling, infrequent but hypnotic percussion and woozy repetition formed into sometimes comforting, sometimes disturbing collages.
Material for this album was originally recorded between 1988 and 2003, although it should be noted that it contains field recordings made prior to these dates.
This self-titled album was originally released in a numbered vinyl edition only on the (now defunct) Bronson Unlimited label in June of 2003. To coincide with the digital release of this album, a small un-numbered edition of vinyl with slightly different packaging is being made available.
While all of the 400 Lonely Things records are strange and a bit incomprehensible, even to its authors, The Late Show is perhaps the most baffling record in the 400 Lonely Things catalog. It provides some moments of genuinely difficult listening balanced out by passages of blissful, simmering narcolepsy and quiet incoherence.
Material for this album was originally recorded between 1996 and 2007, with most of the album itself being assembled in 2005-2007.
Volume One in an multi-volume series, "A Barsoomian Lullaby" is intended as an unofficial audio companian to the fantastic world of Barsoom created by author Edgar Rice Burroughs in the early 1900’s.
Rather than providing a soundtrack to characters or events specfic to any of the books, "A Barsoomian Lullaby" is conceived as an environmental study; an auditory portrait of this equally bizarre and beautiful imaginary landscape Burroughs depicts "of indescribable loveliness, tinged with the weirdness of strange enchantment". The recordings are perhaps best-suited to low-volume, indirect listening - ideally while falling asleep reading one of the eleven "Martian" novels; A Barsoomian Lullably to invoke the dreamless sleep of Mars.
Material for Volume One was recorded in the track order that they appear on the album, in July and August of 2007.
“Fascinating CD. I found the album very memory invoking. Listening to Tonight of the Living Dead was like musically leaping back in time to relive all the nuances of my character Barbra’s struggle to survive all the horrific night terrors forced on her in Night of the Living Dead. Thank you so much for creating such a soul searching CD.”
Judith O’Dea - “Barbra” in George A. Romero’s NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD
A remix project over a year in the making, Tonight of the Living Dead is a collage of treated audio and a 12-page booklet of treated imagery taken from the 1968 George Romero film Night of the Living Dead.
With their tendency for darkish music told mostly through samples, remixing Night of the Living Dead is a project ideally suited to 400 Lonely Things. While so many are indebted to this movie for introducing them to the world of horror cinema, Tonight of the Living Dead pays tribute to a lesser-known legacy of this film: the ground-breaking precedent of plunderphonics and remixing established in the composition of the original 1968 soundtrack.
Crew and cast member Karl Hardman, under the editorial supervision of George Romero, used recordings by other composers from stock film music libraries - many of which had already appeared in other movies and television shows - and then “augmented them electronically” to form their own original score for Night of the Living Dead. 400 Lonely Things has extended this notion of augmentation by using mutated samples from the film itself (many with their excellent foley work intact) as the only ingredients, and weaving these treatments into a subtle and creepy, dialog-free, instrumental companion that should appeal as much to fans of the film as it would to listeners of dark ambient, plunderphonics and experimental music. That appeal may even extend to fans of classical music (and soundtracks in general) who have a taste for things on the fringe.
While the film is noted for how it straddles a line between social commentary and drive-in shlock with a kind of clunky elegance, 400 Lonely Things’ Tonight of the Living Dead is concerned with the more understated and haunting moments of this movie, focusing on the fragility of “Barbra” and drawing out the sense of bewildering relentlessness and hypnotic inevitability of waiting in an old farm-house for the world to end.
It is hoped that Tonight of the Living Dead will somehow add to the legacy of this film in some tiny way, rather than take from it. It is respectfully dedicated to the late Karl Hardman and all who worked on the original soundtrack, the imagery is dedicated to Judy O’Dea, “The Music Box” is for Kyra Schon, and of course the big picture is for George Romero.
“It’s clear from the finished product that 400 Lonely Things’ album is meant as a sincere tribute to the zombie masterpiece.” - RUE MORGUE MAGAZINE
“400 Lonely Things has nailed a hard-to-find sub-genre of dark music on the head, that many of us in the horror community have been yearning for… More than just a CD for fans of the macabre.” - BLOODYDISGUSTING.COM
“A genuine tribute to a deserving classic.” - DREADCENTRAL.COM
“A fantastic dark atmosphere.” - MIDNIGHT PODCAST
“Awesome… A must have for genre-fans.” - KILLER REVIEWS
“…A tool for horror fans to relive one of the greatest horror films ever made in a whole new way. Highly recommended.” - SEND MORE COPS
“The mood evoked in Tonight of the Living Dead remains consistent throughout… a pervading, quiet terror.” - SCOTT KENEMORE, author THE ZEN OF ZOMBIE
“We can tell you first-hand the album is seriously cool.” - SCARS MAGAZINE
“Tonight of the Living Dead is a long melancholic walk through the shadows in George Romero’s world. It is a compilation of sound that evokes the raw grittiness of the film. In the movie, you see Barbara’s horrific flight from a zombie that killed her brother. With Tonight of the Living Dead, you actually feel it.” - A WORLD ON FIRE
Between April and May 2008, 400 Lonely Things members and old friends Jonathan McCall and Craig Varian met online several nights each week, talking for hours while transferring recordings back and forth to each other. During this period, Jonathan’s father was in hospice and passed away. "Minutes A.D." is the result of this period in time, these meetings and this collaboration; both vigil and memorial.
As should be expected, the recordings are equal parts love, anxiety, grief, comfort, acceptance, memory, regret, farewell and amen.
Another solo outing by Craig Varian, Be Still Life was recorded between August and December of 2008. The album title points to the bittersweet interplay between the constant change of life, and the human desire to keep things always as they are. This is further enacted by the packaging; still lives arranged and photographed by Craig’s (then) seven-year-old daughter, Emma; fleeting mandalas found around their house in the mountains.
If 400 Lonely Things were to ever make a psychedelic folk album, Be Still Life is perhaps what it should sound like. The songs are built entirely of sampled arrangements and locally grown, organic field recordings, reflecting life in the woods, both serene and sinister. Acoustic guitars and woodwinds drift in and out of golden sunlight and sparkling meadows, while fireflies lure you to sleep in dark, forbidding forests of drones and dirges as the evening draws to a close.
Be Still Life opens and closes with homages to two cinematic cautionary tales of innocence and faith, with the tranquilizing beauty and peacefulness of the woods as their backdrop. Track one, Swiss Miss features a few audio bites culled from Ingmar Bergman’s The Virgin Spring, and the albums’ closing track Wicklow Wood is composed entirely of a few brief, treated samples from John Boorman’s Zardoz. Be Still Life is the sixth album from 400 Lonely Things (all of which were released in a one year period).
Arrangers of sounds both found and lost, to baffle the uninitiated and comfort those in need.
400 Lonely Things Craig Varian and Jonathan McCall, Proprietors. Est. 1988.