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Carnival Symposium by Spiky

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Reviewed on 9th December 2011.


Carnival Symposium

By Spiky

Labelled under 'Rock/orchestral/steampunk', with influences ranging from Elfman to Manson, you know there's going to be something a bit kooky about the music before you press play. A composer from the other side of the channel, Spiky is insistent that an album isn't just about the music, but about the artwork and everything else that comes with it. The artwork on the album cover (and inside the box) is stunning, and very skilful. Aurélien Police really did himself proud with the dark, industrial looking images that really express the nature of the music before you hear it.

It's an interesting choice to have your first track as the longest one; rule of thumb always seems to be save it for last. Spiky isn't just any musician though, he's un artiste conceptuel, and 'The Chronophagist'- 12 minutes long, shows us why that is. The description of the music as being like 'an orchestra in a factory' seems to ring true at the beginning of the album, with some very industrialised sounds conjuring up the image of various Tim Burton scenes. The Elfman influences seem particularly prominent throughout the entire album (perhaps explaining why the music conjured up Burton scenes, as Elfman and Burton often collaborate). The first track sounds quite carnival like, with Captain John Sprocket making a guest appearance, along with Jessica Donati. It feels like one big magic show is taking place, and you're waiting for the magician to perform his death-defying act...and waiting...and waiting...his clever use of instrumentation makes you sit on the edge of your seat in anticipation, as it sounds like time is running out. The whole track continues in this manner...and runs smoothly into the second, which has a very similar feel.

The voice is used a lot more in 'Seeds of Evil', and 'Dancing on a Fence'. Both voices (which I can only assume are Spiky and Jessica Donati) are unique sounding; perhaps it's just the accent of the singers, but whatever the reason, it makes for an interesting listen.

'The First Cog Lament' is a nice hiatus for the listener. This is probably my favourite track, as it's quite minimal in its use of instruments and musical material- and uses a didgeridoo! Creating a really relaxed feel that you could quite literally sit and listen to for hours. The pace soon picks back up again when 'Steampunk Engineering' starts. By now, Spiky has made his signature sound quite clear, and it continues much in this way through 'The Sick Crow'. 'Tesla' has a slightly different sound, and like much of the material before it, sounds very video game like. We already know what to expect from the music: a lot of sound and textural changes interspersed within tracks, and a continuous rhythmic motif.

'The Last Cog Lament' is the final track, and takes us back to that industrial factory sound we heard at the very beginning. The foreground music could very easily be an accompaniment to an emotional scene in a film; it's very intelligently composed, using minimal instrumentation for the maximum effect.

Overall, the filmic influences, particularly those of Elfman are incredibly clear in Carnival Symposium. Whilst I can't imagine attending a concert of this, it's the sort of music you can imagine being on a video game soundtrack, or even in a Tim Burton film. It has just the right amount of kooky, and it's clear that Spiky could go a long way. He already has a compositional signature, as all good film composers do i.e. Williams, Shore, Zimmer and Elfman. Hopefully one day we'll see his name on the credits of an xbox game, or maybe even on the Big Screen.



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On 10th December 2011 at 00:29 Anonymous 13699 wrote...

A fine review -- entertaining; descriptive; joyous use of refreshingly, unrelentingly correct English; etc. I await your future reviews with baited breath, Ms Malkin.

-G Searcher


On 10th December 2011 at 09:24 Jimmy Horrigan wrote...

I really enjoyed reading this, Elizabeth. Not enough reviews include a reference to Hans Zimmer! I'm left with appetite whetted and needing to hear the music to see if it speaks to me too. Jimmy H.



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