VARIOUS ARTISTS “Chthonic Records Presents: It’s Halloween Time” 2x66.6 (Chthonic Records/Almost Halloween Time Records)

We’re at a disadvantage, we music writers. There’s just so much out there, right? Almost too much to cover with any sort of consistency or timeliness. Scratch that – just timeliness. (I’m nothing if not consistent.) That’s why I’m writing about Halloween in the doldrums of Isolation April, and it’ll be May before you even read this. See how that works? This October 2018 compilation – still available, I might add – landed in my mailbox a month or two ago, and I’m just getting to writing about it. And now you know the inner workings of the process.

Meh, it’s not all like that, but that’s how the chips fell for Chthonic Records Presents: It’s Halloween Time, a double-cassette release that clocks in at 66.6 minutes per tape – that’s a really spooky number!* In conjunction with Almost Halloween Time Records, the Bari, Italy, label that gave it a second life in October 2019, Chthonic Records cobbles together a compilation of outsider weirdos that give new meaning to the phrase “horrorcore,” in that there isn’t a lot of horror and also very little core. Instead we’re treated to a bunch of lo-fi mood pieces that run the gamut from seasonal incidental music to trippy sample collages to actual ditties about Halloween itself, and/or creepy goings-on. (Plus extra credit to the dude who calls himself “Charles Dingus.”)

Still, we’re not talking “Monster Mash” or “Werewolf Bar Mitzvah” to spruce up a party or anything. It’s more like Cougheteria’s take on a Twilight Zone episode (“The Ghosts We Know”) or Hoops’ funereal dirge (“A Monster at Home”). There’s also Restaurnaut’s usual garbage-can soliloquizing (“I Was Possessed [by a Ghost]”), Painted Faces’ spiked-punch reeling (“Hippy Halloween”), and a surprisingly straightforward turn by Bob Bucko Jr. (“We Are Not All Monsters”). But nothing you can really dance to. Which is totally fine if your Halloween consists of sitting at home, by yourself, sad that you’re not a kid anymore, and slowly peeling and eating every piece of candy you bought for trick-or-treaters, none of which seem to want to ring your bell.

Is that sad, or do you just live in the country?

*Sorry, Tabs Out references just slip in subconsciously now.