Act One (The Road To The House Of Usher)

01. An Unenviable Role (2:28)
02. That Must Be The House (4:52)

Act Two (Within The House Of Usher)

03. Architecture (3:39)
04. The Sleeper (3:18)
05. One Thing At A Time (2:50)
06. I Shun The Light (3:45)
07. Leave This House (5:03)

Act Three (Immediately Following)

08. Dreaming (3:30)
09. A Chronic Catalepsy (3:15)
10. The Herbalist (3:32)
11. The Evil That Is Done (3:42)

Act Four (The Following Morning)

12. Five Years Ago (3:50)
13. It's Over Now (3:31)
14. An Influence (3:18)
15. No Rot (2:19)

Act Five (Dawn The Next Day)

16. She Is Dead (6:35)

Act Six (Three Days Later)

17. Beating Of The Heart (5:19)
18. The Haunted Palace (4:22)
19. I Dared Not Speak (2:57)
20. She Comes Towards The Door (1:06)
21. The Fall (3:19)

Total playing time: 76:42

An Opera by Peter Hammill
Libretto by Chris Judge Smith

The Characters:

THE CHORUS - Sarah-Jane Morris
THE HERBALIST - Herbert Grönemeyer

Opera by Peter Hammill


Peter Hammill: Guitars, Keyboards
Stuart Gordon: Violins

Produced by Peter Hammill
Recorded by Peter Hammill at Sofa Sound & Terra Incognita, except: parts of Ms. Lovich's performance recorded at H.O.M.E. Studios by Les Chappell; Mr. Gronemeyer's performance recorded at Outside Studios by Christoph Matlock
Live mixing by Paul Ridout
Compiled, edited & mastered at Terra Incognita
Artwork & sleeve design by RidArt

This CD is a re-recording & remix of a work first released in 1991. The instrumentation has been completely revised...
...dozens of electric guitars are used in massed groups which feel a choral or orchestral role. PH's own vocals as Roderick Usher have mostly been re-recorded & the resulting central performance is a spine-chilling vocal tour de force (CJS)

This CD is a re-recording & remix of a work first released in 1991. These notes may explain how & why the unusual step was taken of creating a new version of the piece. In 1989, the long-anticipated first stage production of the opera was cancelled just a few months before rehearsals were due to begin. This disappointment was perhaps the catalyst for PH's determination to see the work recorded & released without delay, drawing a line beneath what had been an extraordinary protracted project. PH began writing 'Usher' in 1973 to a basic libretto of mine already some years old. Work had proceeded intermittently ever since, with most years seeing at least a few weeks collaborative work on the project. Recording began during the summer of 1989, a cast was assembled & by the spring of the following year the CD, which I shall call 'Usher 1', was substantially complete. The musical arrangements & orchestrations of this original recording were more-or-less the instrumental parts that would have been performed live for the planned stage production. Considerable difficulty was encountered in finding a record company of any substance to take on this very 'left-field' project, but in 1991 the CD was eventually released only to become effectively unavailable shortly afterwards. In common with much of PH's work over the last 30 years, Usher 1 was both extravagantly praised & savagely condemned by small minorities of enthusiasts & detractors, while the majority of (even sophisticated) music consumers remained quite unaware of its existence. 'Usher 1' remains a true, accurate & honourable rendering of the work, but even its most ardent admirers agree that the austerity of the musical arrangements & its understated production techniques made for an uncompromising & demanding listening experience. Eight years later I was intrigued to hear that PH had returned to the piece & was carrying out extensive further recording work; though my interest was tinged with a certain degree of apprenhension when he told me that, amongst other things, he was recording scores of new electric guitar parts throughout the opera. This new work on the project occupied a full six months in the studio & I heard the new 'Usher' for the first time in June 1999. My apprehensions vanished; 'Usher II' was a revelation. PH has carried out something between a radical remix & a completely new recording of the original work. The instrumentation has been completely revised & the dozens electric guitars are used in massed groups which fill a choral or orchestral role. PH's own vocals as Roderick Usher have mostly been re-recorded (simply because he was in a position to do so, he told me) & the resulting central performance is an extraordinary & spine-chilling vocal tour de force. Above all, the overall sound of 'Usher II' now bears comparison with the original recording. The last eight years have seen PH's studio at Terra Incognita grow in state-of-the- art digital facility, while his own engineering & production skills have developed to a very high standard; as evidenced by the exceptional sound quality of his most recent solo CD's. 'Usher II' exists in a rich, deep & sparkling sound-world; in contrast to the dry cramped sound quality of the original released. Among many others changes & refinements, one further revision may be worth drawing attention to 'Usher II' has no drums or percussion. During the eighteen-year development of the opera, many 'numbers' existed as some point in a relatively conventional rock music format and, at the time of the first recording, several sections still featured rock drums. In retrospect, the composer found these 'throw-backs' unnecessary & anachronistic, & these sections have been radically reworked; in my view, to the great benefit of the piece. Paradoxically, the lush clarity of the new version seems in no way to soften or sweeten the impact of the music. This is not 'Usher-Lite'. Rather, the ease & pleasure of the listening experience now draw listener very much further into the depths of Poe's terrifying universe. (Chris Judge Smith)

'The Fall Of The House Of Usher - deconstructed & rebuilt - reissue of this 1991 opera, remixed with additional guitars and the withdrawal of drum section (1999)'

(P) © 1991 FIE! Records (re-issue)

FIE! Records
original 1991 release

1999 release (deconstructed & rebuilt)