Monday, November 6, 2023

Falling From the House of Usher


I'd never heard of British electronic artist Sampha until Mr. Brown messaged me about him a few days ago. Upon checking out his new album Lahai, I'm sold. I'm always looking for the next Burial, and although in no way would I compare this record to Untrue, there's definitely some shared DNA. Spacious, floaty and a beautiful approach to the vocals and backing textures, this record drifts along at a slow speed so you can be sure to catch all the gorgeous sonic scenery that populates each track. Throw in some really tight bass lines and beats to boost the tempo now and again, and this one is a perfect late-night, winding-down record. You can pick this one up at the shop HERE.


I watched the first two episodes of Mike Flanagan's The Fall of the House of Usher on Friday and quickly dismissed the show as "not for me." I have issues with the last few Flanagan Netflix projects and am actually looking forward to him shaking up his paradigm with his new deal at Amazon. 

Yet, I kept thinking about it all day Saturday. So I went back and watched two more. I was destined to finish this anyway, as we're recording an episode on it for The Horror Vision this coming Thursday night. Regardless of that, episodes three and four smoothed over some of the rough edges. Then, yesterday K started the show from episode one, and I sat through 1-4 for a second time. Not sure what my problem was on Friday, but I was 100% wrong. This one is fantastic!

One of my initial problems was that the creators seemed hellbent on critiquing the "Hedonism of the Rich," which, to me, is a moot point. We're well over a decade into kardashians and their public sex tapes/church scams/meltdowns. It's old news. The first two episodes of Usher really spend a lot of time making this point, and it feels goofy. Also, since Midnight Mass, Flanagan's characters spend a lot of time making grand soliloquies, and for me, they don't always work. 

These are minor grievances, though. 

One of the things I'd forgotten about Flanagan's style is he plays a long game, dropping bits that seem inconsequential or startling for the sake of being startling at the time and really don't come together until the end. This has been in his work almost from the beginning; I first discovered him by randomly watching Absentia circa 2012. That one put his name at the top of my "Directors to watch" list so that, in 2013, when Oculus hit theatres, I sat alone in a theatre on opening day. Oculus was definitely one I had to adjust to; my first viewing was, a lot like watching these first two Usher episodes, an exercise in frustration for me because I was rushing the story. When I eventually rewatched Oculus on video, I realized it was fantastic and essentially the template for everything the Director would do going forward. 

Also, it seems this "watch the first half and then watch it a second time before you continue" is a sound strategy for Flanagan's work, as in looking back through old posts here, I found THIS about The Haunting of Hill House:

"K and I plowed through the first five episodes of the Netflix/Mike Flanagan epic The Haunting of Hill House. I was a bit uncertain at first, but quickly came around. It has Flanagan's time weaving technique, the one that makes Occulus so unique. I dig it, probably not as much as I'd hoped I would, but for watching five episodes in a binge -something I haven't had the time to do in forever - it was good. We wanted to make it through the first five because an article popped up last week HERE on Bloody Disgusting where Flanagan suggests people watch the first five, then go back and watch them again before continuing on to episodes 6-10. This is based on a revelation in ep. 5 that changes the way you will see things in the first half if you watch them again with that in mind."

The point of all this, then, is to tell you that if you haven't watched this one yet, and if you can find the time, watch episodes 1-4 of Usher once, then restart them and continue through to the end. I'm about halfway through six and extremely invested; none of my previous complaints have even occurred to me since that first failed viewing on Friday.


In order to fully appreciate Flanagan's adaptation of Poe's work, I also picked up a $1.99 Kindle "Complete Works" for Poe, as my hardcover copy has long ago been lost to the aether, and all I still have is the paperback copy of the 1980 Signet Classic edition I've had since High school:

There are quite a few cheap Kindle editions of the complete works, and all of them will contain the main stories adapted here. So far, I've re-read Usher and The Masque of the Red Death, and it's been quite interesting to see what Flanagan and his writers pulled from each for the show. I'm looking forward to diving into Murders in the Rue Morgue next. 


The Misfits - Collection I
The Cramps - RockinnReelininAucklandNewZealandXXX (Live)
Cocksure - TVMALSV
Anthrax - Among the Living
The Cramps - Smell of Female (Live)
Deafheaven - New Bermuda
The Heartwoods Institue - Unburied Bane (thanks, Tommy!)
Deth Crux - Bloody Christmas (single)
Bryce Miller - City Depths
Seashore Darkcave - Synthtales
Ulver - Teachings In Silence
Ulver - Bergtatt
Silent - Modern Hate
Greg Puciato - Mirrorcell
Loathe - I Let it in and It Took Everything 
Gazelle Twin - Black Dog
Umberto - Prophecy of the Black Widow

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