April 5, 2012
The Poe album has some obvious similarities to the book and addresses some of the points directly by naming the tracks after specific parts of the book (i.e. 5 ½ minute hallway and Exploration B.) I really liked how the album seemed to mimic the form of the book.
Poe’s music is categorized under alternative, and like the book makes a new form in the arrangement of its music. I noticed that as the voice of the “Father” and “Daughters” come in the music changes altogether. Most of the tracks, for the bulk of the song, are what I expected from a female alternative artist, but then as the other voices come in it changes to a jazz violin or piano. I interpreted this like a footnote in the novel, it is separate and tells it’s own story out of the main body of the music. Unlike the book however, I think that the main perspective here is Johnny Truant and not Zampano’s story about the Navidson record.
What these excerpts of jazz music portray is a family that is struggling to keep it together and kids that are a lot more scared than I had perceived them to be before. It also comments directly on the house itself. In the last minute or so of “Wild” the father’s music cuts in and sounds a lot like a horror film score because of the violin. The Father says, “ Communication is not just words. Communication is architecture because of course, it is quite obvious, that a house which would be built without the sense, without that desire for communication would not look the way your house looks today.” This sounds like a challenge to the knowledge we’re given in the book (it looks like an average house) however, the house communicates to the people living in it, through other means. Its lack of architecture is not lack of communication and The Father doesn’t seem to understand this.
In “Terrible Thought” we hear a conversation between Father and Daughter 1 in which she says “Sometimes I can’t hear myself think.” All of their conversation has this weird echoing quality to it. It makes me think that somehow the house is taking away their voice and their ability to function properly as a family. This is mirrored in the book with Karen’s infidelity and their drifting relationship.
In many of these interludes we also hear the voice of an adult daughter. She calls her mother and never receives anything but a message on the machine, nonetheless she sings to her and tells her of her father’s death, “He sends his love.” She also reassures her absent mother that her Father does not harbor any ill feelings toward her and hopes she can do the same. Having not read the whole book, I can only hypothesize that their relationship, under the massive strain from the house, deteriorates to a point of dissolving.
I had interpreted the family as a unit that was somewhat holding it together in the face of this weird universal shift. After listening to Poe’s album I don’t see it that way anymore. I also though that the kids were barely being affected but now I definitely think that it is taking a great toll on the kids and particularly Navy’s daughter. In “Haunted” Annie the Daughter says, “You think I’ll cry? My heart will break before I cry, I will go mad.” This is followed by creepy little girl laughter. I’m concerned for the way that cavernous space makes everything echo like the family has little control over their voice.
Finally the album adds an extra layer of creepy to the book. It sounds like classic horror movie music. The echoing voices, the creepy violin and piano, as well as the weir interludes and changes in tempo. Suffice it to say that the record succeeded in making me apprehensive about going to sleep after reading House of Leaves.