M. R. James, Count Magnus LP – Read by Robert Lloyd Parry , score by Pentagram Home Video & Chris Bozzone
* Limited pressing on 150 gram vinyl
* Printed on a deluxe heavy weight gatefold tip-on jacket
* Includes liner notes by S. T. Joshi
* Newly commissioned art by Matthew Jaffe
LAST ONE AVAILABLE
M. R. James’ Count Magnus, as read by Robert Lloyd Parry and scored by Pentagram Home Video and Chris Bozzone, makes for an intriguing listen. Given Parry’s quite conversational tone, mixed with the paired musicians’ score, it’s as though one is hearing this well-documented chronicle related while seated at the bar of some fascinating club. It’s a late-night tale, told with the enthusiasm of a knowledgeable man who’s been waiting ages for someone to whom he can relate all of this weirdness.
As Parry has delved deeply into the history of M.R. James with two documentaries – Dim Presences and Wits in Felixstowe, which cover James’ “A Warning to the Curious” and “Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad,” respectively – it should come as no surprise that he was readily able to bring James’ Count Magnus to life so evocatively. Parry knows both the stories and the man himself.
That said, Parry is not just content to tell the story, however. The writer’s skill for creating voices for James’ varied characters allows him to convey both Mr. Wraxall’s “man past middle age, possessed of some private means, and very much alone in the world,” but also that of the landlord of the inn where Wraxall stays, Herr Nielsen, and even that of his grandfather of 92 years prior to the story being told. It’s a talented piece of reading, and the journalistic nature of Wraxall’s writing is given the gravitas required, while also knowingly nodding to the man-of-leisure aspect to the travel writing of a travel book.
Given the myriad timeframes in which Count Magnus takes place, it is of utmost importance that the musical pairing of Bozzone and Pentagram Home Video delineate the eras into which the listener is taken. By means of acoustic and electronic instrumentation, the pairing places the listener in a very specific locale with each musical milieu. Flute scores a trip back to the story of Herr Nielsen’s grandfather, and synthesizer presages it, making the temporal switch clear.