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KingBathmat Fantastic Freak Show Carnival album cover
4.16 | 43 ratings | 10 reviews | 14% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2005

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Ghost in the Fire (4:31)
2. Fantastic Freak Show Carnival (3:58)
3. Rejected (3:04)
4. Kings Ransom (3:17)
5. Hornets Nest (1:24)
6. Sweet Iris (4:55)
7. Simpleton Know It All (3:18)
8. Illuminous Pups (3:26)
9. Wonderful Life (4:57)
10. Interval (1:36)
11. Soul Searching Song (11:27)

Total Time: 45:53

Line-up / Musicians

- John Bassett / composer, performer & producer

Note : The actual instrumentation could not be fully confirmed at this moment

Releases information

Artwork: John Bassett

CD Stereohead Records ‎- KINGBCD03 (2005, UK)

Digital album

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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KINGBATHMAT Fantastic Freak Show Carnival ratings distribution

(43 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(14%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(58%)
Good, but non-essential (19%)
Collectors/fans only (7%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

KINGBATHMAT Fantastic Freak Show Carnival reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Muzikman
5 stars Who is KINGBATHMAT? What kind of name is that for a band any way? Well, it is different, unique and original. Ok we are already a step ahead of most acts. You have a name that you cannot forget, now who is the man behind the music? His name is John Bassett and he is from the UK. The CD cover is just as colorful as the name-weird and bizarre or any other vernacular that fits out the ordinary. The title of the album is "Fantastic Freak Show Carnival", are you starting to catch on now?

Now to the is nothing short of fantastic, easily one of the best rock albums I have heard this year, and believe me I hear a lot. To explain what this music sounds like could be a challenge, I heard so much in every song. Its all good, I absolutely loved every track. I would have to say PINK FLOYD is definitely an influence and certainly "Sgt. Pepper" era BEATLES, after that I am sure whomever hears this CD will say something different, and that is a tribute to the across the board appeal this CD will enjoy. For a rock album that is a monumental achievement as the genre can most certainly lend itself to a generic sound. This album is far from that. Bassett handles the entire gamut of musical instruments-guitar, bass, vocals, drums, keyboards, and the artwork for the project. He is a literal one-man band.

This is unequivocally progressive rock mixed with psychedelic and flat out rock jamming. The guitar playing is exceptional throughout this recording with a special note to the closer "Soul Searching Song" which runs over 11 minutes. The tour de force takes the entire album, ties it all together conceptually and musically, and then closes the curtain on one dynamite album that is hard to forget. . Where has this guy been all of these years anyway? Where have you been hiding him England?

Keith "MuzikMan" Hannaleck-

May 2, 2005

Rating - 9.5/10

Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars If Radiohead were fun

I have a confession to make that will lower my credentials even more than they already are. I really don't like Radiohead very much post-Bends. Are they good, sure, are they important, fine. But I'll do almost anything to keep from playing their discs. Need your lawn mowed? I'm there. Anyway, when I'm looking for a great indie alternative rock band in the Radiohead/crossover realm, but actually want to have some fun at the same time with musicians who don't come off as self-important, I can reach for Kingbathmat's "Fantastic Freak Show Carnival." Released in 2005 the album sports an alternative rock/melodic pop backbone with hints of psychedelia, experimentation, and imagination. Think of a cross between "The Who Sells Out" and a John Frusciante album and you might have an idea what the Freak Show feels like.

Given that this is a one-man album it is very impressive how Bassett manages such a full and rich sound, sounding more like a full band with dual guitars. Punchy melodic pop and harder rock numbers occasionally escalate into longer jams, but for the most part the songwriting is succinct with great instincts. The secret weapon is Bassett's amazing self-harmonizing on his vocals...he has a voice very much like Frusciante but is capable of doubling over himself to create lush and lovely vocal presentations. "Sweet Iris" was my favorite for this reason, just glorious hazy psych-pop, mostly vocal, with light guitar for color. Mixed with his whimsical and perhaps slightly Syd Barrett nods, along with superb and tasteful guitar leads, the result is a very satisfying modern rock album. The final track finds him stretching out to 12 minutes and getting wilder, almost Kingston Wall territory. This excellent under-the-radar release eluded me for too long. Check it out, along with his new album "Truth Button."

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars A big thankyou to my friend Finnforest(Jim) who recommended this to me a few years ago. By the way I have had many people suggest albums and bands over the years and I always check them out and more often than not I pick them up but it might take years for review to show up from me, just sayin'. KINGBATHMAT is the project of one John Barrett who's from England, he's a very inspired person and on the first two albums he did it all, but on "Fantastic Freak Show Carnival" he hired Bernie Smirnoff on drums and Lee Sulsh on guitar while John stuck with bass, keys, vocals etc. By the way those two additions are still with KINGBATHMAT. Michael Popke in his review says "The album is a song cycle revolving around a cast of characters living in a small country town littered with drunks, drug addicts and mentally ill people." Sounds like my town(haha). Before I get to the songs I have to say it took a while for me to appreciate the first five tracks but man those last six songs just kill! In fact I usually state my top top three tracks on an album I rate with 4 stars or more but on here it's the last six, just outstanding!

"Ghost In The Fire" has a spacey intro and I love the keys that echo as vocal melodies then vocals arrive. It kicks into a fuller sound before 1 1/2 minutes on the chorus as the contrasts continue. "Fantastic Freak Show Carnival" hits the ground running but then it settles back but the power is still there. This is the best part of the song in my opinion. Vocals before a minute as the song settles in. Some nice guitar and drum work on this one. It settles right down at 2 1/2 minutes then we get some killer guitar before the vocals return. "Rejected" has reserved vocals and a laid back sound, harmonies too. It kicks in hard sounding really good. Back to the original sound as themes are repeated. Catchy stuff.

"King's Ransom" reminds me of early PORCUPINE TREE and THE LEGENDARY PINK DOTS when it begins. A catchy, driving tune with an addictive drum/ bass rhythm section. The vocals are belted out with confidence, harmonies too. "Hornet's Nest" has some nice upfront bass and high pitched guitar expressions that build. Such a cool sound. Okay the next six songs are pure bliss. "Sweet Iris" is a sentimental, hazy sounding piece that takes me to dreamland. Man I dig this song, very moving. Talk about moving check out "Simpleton Know It All", man this song speaks to me. Yeah I'm simple but if you met me you'd want to be my friend(possibly, haha). Again this is so freaking good, I'm in Heaven.

"Illuminous Pups" is an instrumental with liquid keys and a spacey atmosphere, very illuminous I'd say. Kind of an early PORCUPINE TREE vibe here(gulp). It turns heavy 2 minutes in and I love the guitar. "Wonderful Life" opens with bass, guitar and drums as the vocals join in. I like this. The vocals become more passionate and check out the soaring guitar 1 1/2 minutes in. Man! Themes are repeated. "They ask you to give your all when your well has run dry" is a good line considering the song's title. That guitar moves me so much as it returns 3 minutes in. Some cool vocal arrangements before 4 minutes then that guitar returns. Nice!

"Interval" has vocal harmonies to start and I like the way the instruments join in and build as the harmonies continue. This is all so good! "Soul Searching Song" ends it and it's 11 1/2 minutes long. I like how the drums and bass join the vocals and the guitar too just before a minute as he sings the song's title over and over. They're kicking ass after 1 1/2 minutes before it settles but these contrasts will continue. It turns spacey after this then we get vocals before 7 1/2 minutes in this laid back section. The guitar and vocals soar before 8 minutes then it calms right down until all we hear is someone changing the radio stations.

Man if I were more into the first five songs I'd be hitting the five star button but as it is I highly recommend this album.

Latest members reviews

3 stars Kingbathmat is a surprise.. sometimes I like it, sometimes I hate it... Why? Simply, the album does not fit any known category at all. The progressive moments are really different, sometimes strange, magic, but then we have some annoying 'Neo Pop Rock' like passages mixed with some good ones. I h ... (read more)

Report this review (#161835) | Posted by Grobsch | Friday, February 15, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars An excellent album that grows and develops with every listen, "Fantastic Freak Show Carnival" is a remarkably diverse affair. The record plays like a rock opera and joyously combines War of the Worlds-era Jeff Lynne with The Who, circa Tommy. The title track begins to contort towards a more Sa ... (read more)

Report this review (#49547) | Posted by | Friday, September 30, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars "Roll up and join the queue / To the Fantastic Freak Show Carnival," beckons John Bassett on the title track to his latest release as KingBathmat. Perhaps Bassett wishes his summons could be an invitation to escapism like the Beatles song to which it alludes, but the claustrophobic, deteriorat ... (read more)

Report this review (#46056) | Posted by | Friday, September 9, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Roll up and join the queue / To the Fantastic Freak Show Carnival," beckons John Bassett on the title track to his latest release as KingBathmat. Perhaps Bassett wishes his summons could be an invitation to escapism like the Beatles song to which it alludes, but the claustrophobic, deteriorati ... (read more)

Report this review (#45382) | Posted by | Saturday, September 3, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars To think that this album represents the work of just one man, is something of a mindblower. Ranging from lush orchestral pop to free roaming prog excess, Fantastic Freak Show Carnival sounds at times like an insane mash up between the Electric Light Orchestra, Led Zeppelin and The Verve while ... (read more)

Report this review (#38820) | Posted by | Friday, July 8, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars King Bathmat, whose ultra-cool, eclectic sophmore "Crowning Glory" caught my attention a year ago has now, in June 2005 released his third album "Fantastic Freak Show Carnival". King Bathmat are a most interesting pastiche of many diverse influences in styles, a more psych driven Sondre Lerche ... (read more)

Report this review (#37121) | Posted by | Tuesday, June 21, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The musical progress that British singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist John Bassett - AKA KingBathmat - has made in three albums boggles the mind. His 2003 debut, Son of a Nun, blended psychedelic pop, rock and folk into a captivating amalgam of eclectic sounds, and the following year' ... (read more)

Report this review (#35006) | Posted by | Thursday, June 2, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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