SPECTRAL PRESS VOLUME V: Rough Music by Simon Kurt Unsworth
They say time flies when you are having fun. And with that in mind I can’t believe it’s been almost a year since I first read the début story in this quarterly anthology of supernatural fiction. Christmas comes but once a year, but Spectral Press comes four times a year. So far we have had stories from Gary McMahon, Gary Fry, Cate Gardner and Paul Finch. Four excellent stories all bound up in four excellent professionally produced chapbooks.
With the second year of publishing now upon us, the torch has been handed to one of my favourite modern short story writers, Simon Kurt Unsworth.
Rough music introduces us to Cornish, a man who can’t sleep, a man whose relationship with his wife is slowly crumbling into a world of spite and petty fights. One night when Cornish wakens at 3am, he is confronted by the sound of rough music. When he investigates the Green outside his house from the safety of his darkened house, he is confronted by a strange sight. A man, wearing, what looks like a strange papier -mache mask. Intrigued by the man Cornish awakens each night, perplexed by why no one else seems to hear the noise. And each night the man is joined my more and more masked players. As Cornish’s life becomes more and more entangled with the nightly performance, his married life becomes more and more precarious.
Simon Kurt Unsworth, has done it again, he has written another one of those extremely spooky, yet very quiet stories he excels at. For a story that has no gore, no real shocks, he has produce one hell of a disturbing novel. The players never openly threaten Cornish, they just perform each night for him. Yet the feeling of dread, and tension they invoke coupled with a sense of sadness and loss, is a wonder to read. You know those great films of yesteryear, such as in The Wicker Man? Where the local villagers would dress up in olde worlde costumes, and spook the holiday makers And you remember the real sense of fear, that they induced in you. Well this story invokes those same feelings to maximum effect.
This is a brilliant story, it falls neatly into place with the rest of the stories in Sprectral Press cannon.
On a personal note, I really connected with this story, I have just gone through a similar period that Cornish and his wife went through, although I must hasten to add that I never did what Cornish did. This is a powerful enough story as it is but added to the emotions this story invoked in me, this has been one of the best short stories I have ever read.
Rough music: (- n) a loud cacophony created with tin pans, drums, etc,; the cacophonous ringing of bells, hooting, blowing bull’s horns, the banging of frying pans, saucepans, kettles, or other kitchen or barn implements with the intention of creating long-lasting embarrassment
Sometimes, the sounds we hear in the dark have resonances that we cannot foresee…
“A writer whose skill is admirably suffused by a thorough grounding in the art of past masters of the macabre” – Stephen Volk
24pg A5 print booklet with card covers, signed and numbered, 100 only – published March 2012.
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