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Miasma and the Carousel of Headless Horses - Perils CD (album) cover

PERILS

Miasma and the Carousel of Headless Horses

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

4.09 | 47 ratings

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Syzygy
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Miasma and the Carousel of Headless Horses features all 3 current members of Guapo, but for the most part they have a sound and style all of their own. Daniel O'Sullivan, who concentrates on keyboards in Guapo, is lead guitarist, while Orlando Harrison (who plays drums in Alabama 3) occupies the piano stool. They play relatively short pieces where the current incarnation of their sister band favour album long suites, and acoustic instruments are far more prominent. The overall feel of the music is dark with a slightly camp edge - their music would work well as a soundtrack to a 1970s Hammer or Amicus horror film, something along the lines of Dracula AD 1972, Dr Terror's House of Horrors or Psychomania.

The album opens with a suitably sinister piece on the harmonium before the first track to feature the full band kicks in. The Mage is the track which sounds closest to Guapo, with Dave Smith playing a drum part which recalls Black Oni part 2, although the prominence of the guitar and the other instruments establishes that this is a different band. Just how different becomes apparent on Peacock The Heretic, which transports us to a Transylvanian gypsy campfire with dark and strange rites taking place in the flickering shadows. This atmosphere is maintained for the remainder of the album, with Daniel O'Sullivan leading from the front on extremely nimble fingered guitar, Orlando Harrison switching between Dr Phibes organ and gloriously doomy piano flourishes and the pair of them sparking off Sarah Hubrich's fiendish gypsy fiddling. Dave Ledden plays more high end, melodic bass than in Guapo, while Dave Smith's drumming is as crisp and unpredictable as ever. There are moments where you can picture Gomez and Morticia Adams dancing an unspeakably lewd tango, along with moments of genuinely disturbing intensity. This is also a band that knows how to rock, which they do to thunderous effect on Asmodius Arise, and they have a keen sense of dynamics - fast and slow, loud and soft, acoustic and electric; all are contrasted with sometimes dizzying speed, and credit must be given to sound man Jamie Gonzalez Arellano for the clarity of the sound and the near perfect balance of sometimes punishingly heavy electric guitar with acoustic piano and violin.

Perils is a massively assured debut album, which draws on the individual members' diverse musical backgrounds and influences to create a uniquely enjoyable dark ambience. There's something of the atmosphere of Goblin's soundtrack work here, or perhaps Univers Zero taking a slightly less serious approach. Fans of Alamariman Vasarat and Hoyry Kone will also find much to enjoy here, as will anybody with a taste for acid fried 70s folk rock. Highly recommended.

Syzygy | 4/5 |

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