WNUF TV28 PRESENTS: FRANK STEWART INVESTIGATES: HALLOWEEN

PrintE-mail Written by Nick Spacek

Terror Vision's WNUF TV28 Presents: Frank Stewart Investigates: Halloween is a difficult album to parse. It certainly benefits from the backstory attendant to its release – namely, that it's a purported compilation of television news pieces done in the mid-'80s by Frank Stewart, a reporter at WNUF TV28, released to raise money to find the reporter and his crew, who disappeared during a 1987 live remote.

The reality: that this is a project done by Baltimore's Midnight Crew Studios, the folks behind the recent film, Call Girl of Cthulu, is slightly less interesting. That said, the writing and presentation of these pieces are slyly, subtly hilarious. It's a tie-in to a project the production company released a few years ago, but you don't really need to know anything about that to enjoy this LP. The introduction lays everything out for the listener, and then it's just a matter of kicking back and letting the various news segments run.

While all slightly different in tone and subject matter, all three of the Frank Stewart segments have some similarities. There are terrible puns, exasperated interview subjects, and a willingness to let things get very, very silly, while somehow remaining steadfastly deadpan. There's a portion of River Hill Sheepsquatch which, no matter how many times it gets played, will leave you gasping for breath from laughter.

The flip side, featuring the Claire Berger and her husband, Dr. Louis Berger's 1976 LP Sounds of the Spirit Word, isn't quite as hilarious, being as it is, presented fairly straight. It's a note-perfect take of oddball spoken word records, but the deadpan nature leaves it calculatedly weird, rather than interesting. Disco Boogeyman does tie in nicely with the Stewart bits from the first side, however, allowing this LP to seem like it was all of a sort.

The downside to both sides of the record is that they're just too cleanly recorded. The illusion is shattered somewhat by the fact that the purported television broadcast excerpts could have benefited from some on-site recording. Even with added sound effects, each and every Frank Stewart segment has the clean audio that comes with repeated takes in a studio setting. Sitting in an actual laundromat for Haunted Laundromat, or venturing into the woods for River Hill Sheepsquatch would have lent a much-needed element of verisimilitude to these “news segments”.

All in all, though, for the lack of period-appropriate decay and degradation, this is still a really fun recording. It's definitely worth throwing on the next time you're sitting around having drinks on the couch after work. The LP works even better coming from a tinny boombox on your front porch while trick-or-treaters wander by.

WNUF TV28 PRESENTS: FRANK STEWART INVESTIGATES: HALLOWEEN (2015) / LABEL: TERROR VISION RECORDS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
 


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