Carnival Arcane by Midnight Syndicate

“The train smoke drifting through the pale moon light signals the arrival of the Lancaster-Rigby Carnival. In a forest clearing, these mesonoxian visitors await your arrival. Stroll along the midway and behold wonders both fantastic and macabre from every corner of the globe. And be sure to ride their one of a kind carousel for an experience you’ll never, ever forget.”

As we swiftly approach Halloween, I can’t resist going through my music collection and digging up some gothic and ghoulish tunes. Without fail, I gravitate to Midnight Syndicate. In my mind I equate them with more than Halloween parties and haunted houses, they fill the season itself for me. I still enjoy listening to both Vampyre and Born of the Night. So it is with mischievous glee that I listened to their latest album, Carnival Arcane.

As usual, Midnight Syndicate has crafted another wonderful “soundtrack for the imagination”. The new album centers around the Lancaster-Rigby Carnival, a turn-of-the-century nighttime traveling circus. Naturally some of the tracks are playful and whimsical while others have decidedly twisted and dark machinations. Not only will this album appeal to goth listeners and those seeking a new Halloween classic but to the steampunks who fancy something a little dark with their Victoriana.

Each of the songs on the album introduce the listener to the Carnival Arcane and the carnies who are part of it. Emz has already played some of the tracks so I’d like to review some of my favorites, though to be fair it was hard to choose only four to shine the limelight on.

As I said many are whimsical, but it is with “Agent of Fortune” that some of the shadows begin to play and can be found lurking. What dark magicks does Madame Zora call upon to tell you your fortune? Only by peeling back her tent’s door and paying the price will you know for sure.

Ah, the “Freakshow” — this is one spectacle I would really love to see become tradition again. This song really brings these curiosities to life, and in my mind it represents the somber life of the geeks and freaks.

Are you feeling poorly and out of sorts? Then step right up ladies and gents and dispel your maladies! “Dr. Atmore’s Elixirs of Good Humour and Fortification” will lift your spirits (and lighten your pocket). I love the way the crowd interacts with this one.

Are you afraid of clowns or jacks-in-the-box, boys and girls? Then “Goons and Greasepaint” will send chills up your spine as the cackles and antics of these dark jesters will really get to you. This one gets my vote for creepiest track of the album.

Old fans of Midnight Syndicate will not be disappointed as their trademark epic instrumental soundtrack feel is here in abundance, and you can see also that they have grown in their musical storytelling. I think this album will also be a great starter for those who might never have heard their music or for anyone who might have written them off in the past as “just Halloween party music”. For those steampunks out there who would like a soundtrack full of the ambiance of the freak shows and carnival days of old, you’ll be pleasantly impressed.

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2 Responses to “Carnival Arcane by Midnight Syndicate”

  1. David Watson Says:

    Picked this up at Halloween Express, Loved it, It would be great if Midnight Syndicate could go on tour with a complete orchestra and a large set, kind of like Transiberian Orchestra does around Christmas. Good article Dan.

    • Thanks David, and I agree 113%. If Midnight Syndicate came to town with an orchestral backing, I’d be first in line for tickets.

      Hmmmm… you know what else would be wicked, is if they teamed up with the show Absinthe in Las Vegas. We saw Absinthe earlier this year and absolutely loved it. It’s a sort of modern sideshow that pays homage to the old ten-in-one type tent shows of old. Very raunchy and hysterical, but also *very* good acrobatics and it is all up close because it is all under a “spiegeltent”.

      Combine THAT with Carnival Arcane and I think that would be a solid October event!

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