Halloween — Laz
(Musea FGBG 4124.AR, 1990/1994, CD)
Halloween — Part One
(Musea FGBG 4123.AR, 1988/1994, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 1995-03-01
Just in time for their recent performance at Progfest, Musea has finally reissued the Halloween back catalog. Their second Laz, originally released on vinyl in 1990, probably should have got the CD treatment in its first incarnation — it certainly is a solid enough album, showing significant musical maturity when compared to their debut. The original album's seven tracks were split roughly between three outstanding instrumentals, and four vocal tracks with English lyrics adapted from the work of HP Lovecraft. The music throughout is their own unique brand of symphonic rock — eerie, dark and brooding, full of frightening imagery and foreboding melodies, very much in line with the band's moniker. Visions of demons abound, dark forests shrouded in fog, fear and death, the dark and sinister side of humanity condensed into forty minutes of music. The four-piece lineup features keyboards, violin + guitar, bass and drums. Vocals are provided either by violinist/guitarist Jean-Philippe Brun or keyboardist Gilles Coppin, nothing special except that they are frequently electronically treated, adding to the music's sense of horror. Standouts include the two instrumentals "Iron Mickey" and "Blue Nightmare," the latter being a showcase for an extended solo by drummer Philippe DiFaostino — as well as the grotesque "Waltz" and the ten minute title track. For the CD reissue, the track "Suburb" was added, with vocals in French. Overall, a good one.
On the other hand, Part One, the band's first album as a trio (bass duties handled here by Brun), has far less cohesion, seeming to wander in several different directions and ultimately not going too much of anywhere — although there are many promising moments of musical brilliance that clearly indicate that Halloween would someday be a force to reckon with. Some of the album's strongest tracks ("Outsider," "Jester's Dance," and "Halloween") are marred by poorly pronounced English vocals — these would have been far more tolerable had they been sung in French or left as instrumentals. Still, I find myself enjoying many of the tunes here, buoyed by Brun's spirited and masterful violin chops. Early live renditions of "Outsider" and "Jester's Dance" have been added here as bonus tracks. Newcomers would be best advised to start with Halloween's current album Merlin, or the second album Laz, prior to exploring these earliest efforts.
Related artist(s): Halloween
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more
Chicago-Based Surabhi Ensemble Tours the World in January – Surabhi Ensemble was formed more than a decade ago in Chicago with the aim of bringing together musicians from varying traditions to make music. Saraswathi Ranganathan, who plays veena, assembled a cast that includes Arabic oud, Spanish guitar, and percussion from Africa and India. This month, the group will be sharing their sounds with concert-goers in Southeast Asia, Europe, and Africa. » Read more
Seaprog Festival Seeks Donations – Seaprog is a small festival in Seattle that highlights creative music from many genres with artists from around the world. It's also a US non-profit organization. They're seeking donations to help keep the ball rolling. Starting in 2013, the organization has been growing, and has featured such artists as Free Salamander Exhibit, Jack o' the Clock, Nik Turner, Cabezas de Cera, Miriodor, Thinking Plague, and many more. » Read more
The Seventeenth Dream of Dr Sardonicus Festival Tickets Now Available – Fruits de Mer Records and their merry crew of psychedelic explorers are getting set to present the next The Seventeenth Dream of Dr. Sardonicus Festival. The dates are set for August 2-4, 2019 at The Cellar Bar in Cardigan, Wales. They've also announced that the legendary Groundhogs will top the bill. » Read more
Charles O'Meara (C.W. Vrtacek) RIP – A true musical original has left us. Charles O'Meara, who recorded under the name C.W. Vrtacek, was a wild-card musical talent, ranging from complex progressive rock to introspective modern compositions, with stops at many places inbetween. » Read more