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Major Parkinson - Twilight Cinema CD (album) cover


Major Parkinson


Eclectic Prog

3.99 | 202 ratings

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4 stars Madness Incarnate

I've known Major Parkinson for a long while, but I honestly can't say that I've enjoyed their music that much in the past. I've had their debut self-titled record in my iTunes library for about 2 years now, never really giving it more than a few listens, and every time saying 'god, this is just too weird for me', but at the same time never really wanting to delete it, because it honestly isn't bad. That album was a violent and spastic affair, taking influence from cabaret and circus music, to even bands like Mr. Bungle and Dog Fashion Disco, but in a progressive/experimental rock sort of way more than a metal one. I always said, 'I'm sure someone will absolutely love this, but that is not me' to that album, but with this new record, their third full-length now, I can safely say that I do enjoy this. And quite a bit, too.

For those older fans worrying that they've softened up their sound and their weirdness to appeal to a wider audience, do not fret. This may be a more accessible album, but it's most certainly not because they've dropped their unique sound to accommodate new fans. I simply feel that Twilight Cinema, as a whole, is better produced, better performed, more melodic and more memorable than anything on the debut. Vocalist Jon Ivar Kollbotn is still doing his regular deep and demented circus vocals throughout, there are still cameos from accordions and organs and whatnot, and the music still gets damned strange at times, but I feel that this album as a melodic and musical entity is so much more formed and cohesive than anything I've heard from these guys before.

It's a songwriting thing, mostly. Because when you hear bands who thrive off being 'weird' and 'unique', they regularly suffer behind these novelty factors, because behind it, the music isn't all that great. Here, it feels that Major Parkinson are composing melodies and riffs before they think about putting accordions and piano breakdowns into it, because many of these songs could still be great if you stood them alone with just bare instrumentation. Take a track like 'Heart Machine', one of the best ones here. Yes, of course, the piano and the explosive ending with strings and electric guitar is probably the best part of the song, but the opening riff could be brilliant nearly anywhere, simply because it's such a great melody, and doesn't need the weirdness to be enjoyable. The weirdness is an after-effect, if you will, to make it even better.

My other favourite here, aside from 'Heart Machine' would be the lead single, 'Impermanence'. After the circus-style intro in 'Skeleton Sangria', 'Impermanence' takes a bit of a quieter and more brooding vibe, with paced drumming and Kollbotn's voice low in both mix and register. The song has a brilliantly intense feel, with some fiddly piano moments cropping up along with the paced drumming to create a great build. This piano becomes a recurring factor throughout Twilight Cinema, and is one of my favourite parts here. Not only is there the the likes of the explosive breakdown in 'Heart Machine', there are some wonderful arpegiatted chords and moments when you can only just hear the piano if you listen carefully, like during 'Black River', where the subtle playfulness of the keys is what makes the track great in my ears.

I've mentioned the dark cabaret and circus influence that Major Parkinson have before, and although I feel on their other records, it was a weird obstacle to enjoying their music, here it fits wonderfully, creating some strange juxtaposition of sounds. Like during the opening two tracks, particularly 'Impermanence', although the music is subdued and brooding, the vocals occasionally slip into a slightly maniacal tone, give a sense of an underlying madness to all of this music, even in the quieter moments. There are other great influences here; the harpsichord during the chorus of 'Black River' reminds me of something you'd find in a Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack, continuing the same sense of insanity that is brought about by the cabaret sounds and the strange vocal tones. I compared this earlier to the 'circus metal' bands like Mr Bungle or Diablo Swing Orchestra, but this has so much more cohesion than either of those bands have (although DSO's latest album is a great improvement), Major Parkinson use these strange influences as a tool, rather than suddenly jumping from a rock song to an accordion breakdown. 'A Cabin in the Sky' even has some odd electronic play that separates it a bit from the pack, but it never sounds completely out of place, and I feel the programmed kit during that segment perfectly goes with the moods of madness and insanity that this album is trying to portray.

Twilight Cinema may not be a flawless masterpiece, but it's most certainly Major Parkinson's best album yet and a perfect bridge between accessibility and experimentation that should get them the fanbase they deserve. Strong melodies and musical ideas topped off with forward- thinking and unique songwriting methods have created one of the best records of 2014 thus far.


Originally written for my facebook page/blog: /

Gallifrey | 4/5 |


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