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Miasma & The Carousel Of Headless Horses - Perils CD (album) cover


Miasma & The Carousel Of Headless Horses


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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.

Report this review (#75389)
Posted Tuesday, April 18, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars The album is simply EXCELLENT. It's the best surprise from me in the new millenium...

A fantastic mix of RIO, Avant, Classic, Barroc and Folk.... Miasma... proves we are leaving the second most importante period of progressive rock history... It's without any doubt one of the best progressive rock disk ever release...

YOU must have it on your collection.

Report this review (#76647)
Posted Saturday, April 29, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Eloquent melodies, compelling piano parts and classical elements with a gypsy folk feel, supported by great drumming, good violin parts and augmented and bridged with odd sounds and dark sinister atmospheric details.

Well something like that, you'll have to listen yourself. If you know and like Guapo, Alamaailman Vaserat, Mr Bungle or Taal, this is the album to get. If you don't like mentioned bands, still get a hold of it. Satisfaction guaranteed.

Fabulous album and highly recommended.

Report this review (#102311)
Posted Sunday, December 10, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Fantastic. Do not hesitate

If you are starting to get into RIO/Avant genre and would prefer to dip your toes before you tackle the more indigestible participants of the genre such as Univers Zero or Kaya Dot this is the one for you. It contains all of the musical elements that makes this sub genre interesting but also throws in a handful of very interesting melodies along the way as helpful guideposts.

Like most Rio/Avant genre there are no vocals. But the interesting thing is, you can listen the whole CD and not realize that there were none. The structure of the music and the quality of musicianship is so high that they do not need lyric band-aids to carry them through.

Most songs contain intense/heavy sections which would definitely appeal to the Prog Archives crowd. Acoustic and electronic sounds are extremely well balanced. They seem to have an innate ability to go from silly to sublime within a single bar.

When I listen to Perils it always leaves a vaguely Irish after taste. I cannot exactly pin point where this comes from. Maybe the dark atmosphere of the music that is punctured, at times, with such joyful but short interludes; it is this combination that makes me think Ireland. I do not know. There are even church bells and horse hoof sounds. What can I say?

Much like all RIO/Avant albums Perils should be listened to in its entirety for the full effect. This is one of the few records that I had to listen again as soon as it finished. TMV's Amputechture was another one. I could not stop myself from listening again and again. Although the Perils share absolutely nothing with Amputechture at the musical level they contain the same intense spirit.

Report this review (#104196)
Posted Friday, December 22, 2006 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
4 stars Miasma first (and so far only) album is a pleasant surprise and while all three members of Guapo are playing in Miasma, this doesn't sound one bit similar at first glance, even once aware of the fact, you may pick out some common musical traits to both formations (their most Post Rock moments). While Ledden (who's yet to record with Guapo) and Smith are on their respected instruments, O'Sullivan (who is the main inspiration behind Guapo's second career) is not playing his usual keyboards, but handling the guitar, while the keyboards are played by a drummer. One of the most prominent instruments is Sara Hubrich's viola, which often gets doubled by O'Sullivan's harmonium.

In general, this album have relatively short tracks (compared to Guapo's extended ones), where the acoustic ambiance gives the album an ethnic folk feel, but I'd rather think of this album of an Avant-prog album. I'd like to refer you to my buddy Chris (Syzygy)'s excellent review, for I am unable to describe better the feel of the album.

From Miriodor to Debile Menthol, passing thru Alamaailman Vasarat, with slight dissonant RIO traits (early-UZ) and an Eastern European ethnic feel (In The Labyrinth or Ensemble Nimbus), Miasma's debut album is certainly one of the better and essential album to discover what PA means with Avant-prog.

Report this review (#117289)
Posted Wednesday, April 4, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Perils indeed!

I don't know how to describe this adequately: Slightly avant-garde yet not obnoxious, unsettling yet not abrasive, sometimes frightening and other times uplifting. The imagery, sounds, and titles all suggest something of a pagan ritual or druidic gathering of some sort...or maybe not, what do I know? But something a little shady is afoot (insert mysterious laughter here).

Aside from the usual instruments the band adds Harmonium, Autoharp, Violins and Viola, Piano, Glockenspiel and other assorted "sounds" which weave the songs together. This album was recorded in London in 2004 and is one of the most original and fun things I've heard in some time.

The tension builds to uncomfortable levels during "The Mage" before we get a beautiful avant-folksy release in "Peacock the Heretic." I love the arrangements and the fact that everything sounds good without being too densely crammed together and overbearing. There are also great stereo effects which will please the headphones crowd. "Perilous Fathoms" is loaded with mad guitar, violin, and keys all swirling together. There are many very short tracks which help keep the variety non-stop between the fuller tracks which range from 4-7 minutes each.

This album is all about the spirit of adventure and discovery akin to life itself. It doesn't take itself too seriously yet there is much substance. Funny how that works. They must have had an absolute blast making this album and anyone who likes imaginative music has to hear this. Like it or not you shouldn't be bored by this one. This music is like a thunderstorm: you never know what's coming next so keep your eyes (and ears) to the sky! I have to thank the other PA reviewers of this title for convincing me to take the plunge on one that I may not have otherwise found. 3.5 stars.

Report this review (#120462)
Posted Tuesday, May 1, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars I found this band completely randomly, and decided to give them a listen based on the name. The name does befit this band. They play a darkly quirky sort of avant garde folk rock. The music sounds like they are trying to scare the listener, but all the while have a smile in the corners of their mouths. The songs are short by prog standards, with the longest topping around seven minutes, but this band doesn't necessarily require long, elaborate songs, and within the shorter timeframe they choose, they develop their ideas nicely. The album flows nicely as well, with each song forming a segway into the next, and is an album I would just listen to all the way through. Acoustic instruments abound here, and violin, glockenspiel, harmonium, and piano are added to the normal rock lineup of guitar, bass, and drums. The album is also completely instrumental. None of the tracks are weak, however, as much as I'd like to, I don't think I could call it a complete masterpiece, so I'm going to have to give it four stars. I'd recommend this album to any adventurous listener or fan or avant garde or progressive folk. The music is adventurous and avant garde, but not completely chaotic like a lot of avant prog, making it one of the more accessible releases for the genre that I've heard.
Report this review (#187300)
Posted Tuesday, October 28, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars A descent into madness in fact, but how classy!

Perils as the title might suggest is a display of danger and insanity, though in a strongly vigorous and energetic, yet mysterious way that pulls the listener more and more with every single track passing. A macabre and mystic music ranging from dark folk through rock to a form of neoclassical sound which is being sewed up together into a mesmerizing avant-garde performance.

Phrase 'Danse Macabre' could be a great portrayal for this obscure piece. While music surely is twisted and dark it keeps a fairly fast pace. With addition of eastern european folk implications the instruments almost imitate a dance. A dance of death, someone at the brink of his life clutching at straws, someone at the edge of his sanity struggling not to fall down. Incredibly ominous, thus interesting. Nonetheless, at no point the album becomes irritating or overwhelming, even though it seems to radiate a sinister aura.

Miasma & the Carousel of Headless Horses definitely maintained a well-made balance in between the accessibility, complex structure and uniqueness of the composition. It is all due to the impressive craftsmanship of the whole piece. Perils consists of many experimental parts where atonality takes control, though the fact that they were blended extremely well into those more harmonic, melodic, pleasant sounding ones and used with a pitch-perfect moderation makes it all a literal ambrosia. Furthermore, the album features many other minor factors contributing to the cohesiveness and general aesthetics of the work such as: cover artwork, absolutely clever attention keeping interludes and even songs' titles which only add to the whole taste.

Creating such a dark merge of genres instrumental work definitely has never been a simple task to do as it requires a lot of attention and investment from the listener. Nevertheless, Miasma & the Carousel of Headless Horses managed to reach every expectation for one to have towards this kind of music. An impossible to outmatch masterpiece.

Report this review (#2594165)
Posted Monday, September 13, 2021 | Review Permalink


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