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Simon Steensland - The Phantom of the Theatre CD (album) cover


Simon Steensland



2.37 | 8 ratings

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2 stars Even for fans of Simon Steenslands other albums, this album is a bit of an odd bird. It's not exactly a studio album, for the music contained on this disc was not written to be released as part of an album. Instead, the tracks here are collected as a representation of what Simon writes when he writes music for theater.

If you've heard any of Simon Steenslands other albums, you probably know that he tends to write music that is rather odd. Of course, he is listed under RIO/Avant so such is probably expected - but in reality, the stuff he is involved with are far from anything else I have heard to date. He is apparently all self taught both in playing and composing, and I think he is an artist where having an approach to music that he came up with on his own has really worked well.

Although this music is intended for the stage and is in many cases utilitarian - as he explains in the liner notes, some of the music is written to be played while the cast changes the set, etc. - there is still some really interesting things in here. They never quite go as far as his pure studio albums in terms of interestingness, and in terms of memorable moments I find a lot less contained on here. Still, the variety of sounds enclosed on here (even if some are far too short to really develop very far, with only 14 of the 36 tracks contained surpassing the 2 minute mark) does yield some interesting pieces.

You do have to read along with the liner notes to understand what was happening when the music was playing though. As I have said, Simon's approach to music is quite unique and so there is very little that fits into the conventions one might expect from music that is intended to evoke specific emotions. The sad music, for example, would probably never be heard in Hollywood (for anything really).

Ultimately, the album does suffer from the mix of different music that appears on it. There really is very little cohesiveness to it; even music that comes from the same play, is often split apart on the album. Interesting themes often rely on fade outs instead of closing in more interesting ways. These weaknesses do bring down the value of this collection a decent amount.

This collection should be interesting to you if you are a fan of the man (as I am) or simply want to hear some unorthodox theatre music.

TheGazzardian | 2/5 |


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