Time Travel







- A Review by Stephen Fruitman

Richard Bone

The Ghosts of Hanton Village is a worthy addition to the grand tradition of American Gothic, where weird things happen in the newly-settled countryside.

Veteran, eclectic electronic musician Richard Bone wordlessly spins the yarn of Hanton Village, an isolated community founded in Rhode Island by a group of strangers in 1790 who simply disappeared exactly one hundred years later. The most plausible theory as to its original inhabitants posits that they were Empire Loyalists who chose to live in self-imposed internal exile after the revolution. Nearby locals naturally embroidered on their reclusiveness by proposing that the inhabitants were diseased or worse, comprised some kind of heathen cult. Either way, prit'near one hundred years later they disappeared into thin air, leaving their belongings behind, tables still set for dinner, as if collectively ascended in some private Rapture.

Until now, all that has remained to memorialize them are some gravestones, only three of which bear legible names.

Bone realizes a kind of musical "Spoon River Anthology", Edgar Lee Masters' classic book of poems (written just two decades after the villagers quit Hanton), in which the dead of that fictionalized Illinois hamlet account for their lives and their community with reminsences, observations and complaints. Appropriately the album begins and ends with wordless, spectral vocals to piano accompaniment, as beguiling and semi-mute as the physical testimony to their real lives.

Bone tells this curious tale with sober but melodic narrative empathy. There is not an unkind note to be heard and he succeeds in evoking a sense of the uncanny without resorting to effects, aside from the cold, cruel wind blowing through "The Shadowlands". The most truly unsettling moment is "Anna of Covington House", a kind of off-kilter comic tango with devilish undertones.

The story of Hanton Village is indeed a ghostly one, but in Bone´s hands, an ultimately amicable one. It is probably the nicest thing ever stated about the inhabitants by an outsider.

Stephen Fruitman
18 Jan 2011