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Shadow Circus - Welcome to the Freakroom CD (album) cover

WELCOME TO THE FREAKROOM

Shadow Circus

 

Symphonic Prog

3.32 | 56 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

rustedsynapse
4 stars "The wails of a lifetime were gathered in it (the train's whistle) from other nights in other slumbering years; the howl of moon-dreamed dogs, the seep of river-cold winds through January porch screens which stopped the blood, a thousand fire sirens weeping, or worse! the outgone shreds of breath, the protests of a billion people dead or dying, not wanting to be dead, their groans, their sighs, burst over the earth!" "Something Wicked This Way Comes" by Ray Bradbury

The Shadow Circus has come to town. And on repeated listens to "Welcome To The Freakroom", an astonishing accomplishment seldom found or given attention in modern music is revealed: this is a work that has been crafted with precision and care, and performed dynamically, in deference to an emotionally charged (and potentially melodramatic) psychological journey, developed across the narrative scenarios of the six songs comprising this "album" through the aesthetic language of multiple artistic mediums. Musically, there are no flourishes out of place, nor is instrumental upstaging present. Instead we are treated to the incremental repetition of sonic themes introduced and developed in, at one moment, a painterly way, and then quite suddenly transformed into film score. The performances are assured and confident and exciting in bringing to life the whimsy and the grave, the elegy and the elation, the urban and the pastoral sonic canvases and palettes presented here. Lyrically, though not a "concept" album in prog's purest sense, a story is told through the unique, and quite impressive, use of theatrical dialogue technique: we come to know the singer/narrator intimately as each song is written and performed individually as monologue, soliloquy, direct conversation . and even spiritual audience with ego and id! In narrative construction it is literary, and reminds one of Sherwood Anderson's "Winesburg, Ohio", in that we witness the development of a character through individual scenarios designed to highlight particular momentous revelations in the life of that character and thereby, in the end, form a cohesive whole from which we can come away with the experiences of another's life epiphanies and, hopefully, gain perspective on our own. With this in mind, and since this is not a work designed for and presented by the written word or stage, I must turn to another medium to further focus my impression of this debut; the great Russian filmmaker Andrey Tarkovsky, when asked to describe his visionary body of work replied that he was "sculpting in time". Yes, I believe that this is the most accurate. This is sculpting in time. This is Shadow Circus.

It would be a colossal disservice for me to front this album as merely a cerebral exercise - hell no! "Welcome To The Freakroom" is a blast to listen to, and contains a treasure trove of classic 70's rock and prog rock musical references: from the stadium bombast of Queen, to the organ pumping drive of Deep Purple, to the plaintive wail of a David Gilmour solo, to the keyboard flourishes of ELP, to the idiosyncratic attack of Tull, to the urban angst assault of The Who, to the depths of the earth rythmn section momentum of Led Zeppelin . hell, there's even a sequence that marries the opening revelatory opus of Rush's "Xanadu" to the bluesy approach of "The Fountains of Lamneth"! Okay? If you have been searching for a new band that has all of the qualities - and the sound - of why you fell in love with progressive rock music, then look no further. "Welcome To The Freakroom" is a wonder of a debut by five accomplished, experienced and, as immediately apparent here, serious musicians: John Foltana, David Lawrence Bobick, Corey Folta, Matt Masek, and Zach Tenorio have all given notice and staked a claim as a band of substantial merit . and as one to watch. This is the real deal, folks. Come on in for the ride of your life.

Rating 3.8 due to production values alone (couldn't just give it a 3.5) - this is more than "Good", and should be a welcomed addition to any collection ... a very promising debut of an interesting and unique vision.

rustedsynapse | 4/5 |

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