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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

Vibrationbaby
4 stars Ladies, and gentleman, children of all ages ........... welcome to the Freakroom!

Spacious keyboard / guitar texturizing, vocal harmonizations and frequent changes in musical dynamics create walls of sound that recapture the glory days of conceptual art-rock of the early seventies on New York City's Shadow Circus' debut album, Welcome To The Freakroom. A ringmaster ( aka Dave Bobick ) with megaphone in hand ushers the audience into a surreal dreamlike grey area called the Freakroom where they are separated from reality and introduced to a microcosm of their inner sanctums, from decadent obsessions and dependences on technology, to the everyday strife of a crumbling modern world but at the same time offering hope and solace in the end for those who take heed to the ringmaster's forewarnings.

A contemptuously benign overall setting (at times quirky for maximum metaphorical circus effect ) is provided by John Fontana's David Gilmour/Alex Lifeson inspired guitar work along with multiple layerings and grooves by the masterful Zack Tenorio on keyboards ( it's hard to believe that he was only 17 when this disc was recorded in June 07 ! ). Through all the pyrotechnics and flowing electricity the flamboyance of frontman Dave Bobick who was trained in musical theatre emerges. Backed by a solid rhythm section of multi-instumentalist Matt Masek on bass ( who also doubles on cello and 12 string acoustic guitar ) and Corey Folta on drums a solid foundation anchors a bright, thriving aura which is maintained throughout this bizarre musical experience.

Despite the radiance in the music, and there's no doubt these guys are having a blast, there's an ominous message here for us as humans, that it is imperative that we put on the brakes or we will be turned into vegetables by our complacencies in this modern, ferocious world where technological advance seems to be more important than our psychological well being which is literally eating us alive. While this seems to be reading too much into the disc the strongest suggestion of this in the work occurs on the deliberately catchy prog-pop Radio People which rocks it out with devious cynicism with references to how we are programmed by a technological world whose impetus we can't keep up with. A ballad, in The Wake Of A Dancing Flame, urges the audience to conquer their pasts and that there is indeed some salvation out there. Another upbeat piece, which is distantly reminicient of some of the material off Meat Loaf's first Bat Out Of Hell album, structured around another catchy main riff played by the piano, Storm Rider, deals with these pasts and features Fontana's guitar as well. It's also preceded by another similarily themed track entitled Inconvenient Compromise which has plenty of changes and keyboards galore that also really rock it out at times. The 3 part epic blowout track, Journey Of Everyman with swirling keyboards and frantic guitars is full of suprises without getting too melodramatic. It is by far the most ambitious,symphonic and moody piece on the album and is placed approprietely at the conclusion of the disc, it returns briefly to the original theme in the opening track and attempts to resolve and make sense of all the madness by imploring the audience not to fear and to put on a brave face upon exiting the temporary rational sanctuary of the freak room.

Musically impressive, Shadow Circus doesn't approach the intimidating instrumental virtuosity of Gentle Giant, the lyrical confusion of Genesis or the compositional complexities of Yes, but nevertheles re- assures us that the spirit of old school art-rock is once again upon us and very alive. There is a certain light hearted magic here that is not present in other contemporary neo-progressive bands' music that just seem to miss the point in some essential way. Shadow Circus demonstrate here that progressive music need not be serious all of the time . Welcome To The Freakroom has to be one of the most gratfying recent neo-progressive rock albums that breathes new fangled life into the present without forgetting the traditional past.

Vibrationbaby | 4/5 |

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