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Samson Y Hiss: Circus Screams

OK, colour me flummoxed. Samson Y Hiss is a unicycling performer who turns his hand to circus music. But don't be fooled, this guy is a musician with pedigree and qualifications. He also has red hair, juggles lemons and wears striped trousers. Personally I'd venture that his/their album, Circus Screams, is more dark theatre than it is an out and out music CD, nine tracks split into odd numbers of instrumental organ/percussion/brass/kazoo music, even numbers of vocals over restrained organ, where vocalist Samuel Faustine 'talks' to himself in a variety of characters. He's actually an interesting vocalist with varied expression and the ability to hit a note with real verve, although he's also helped out by the screams of Ross Travis and Deanna Hammond as the story of murder and unhinged circus madness ensues.

With the music tracks off-kilter circus marches where snare drum is pounded and organ hums, whines, and pleads against a background of trumpet, trombone and tuba, if you're looking for an actual song, or even a conventional instrumental piece to hang your hat on, you won't find any of that straight up shenanigans here. No, that would be way too middle of the road for an album where it appears one of its purposes is to isolate, confuse and push away. If you have a love for circus music and like your avant-garde to work within a tight structure that seldom steps beyond its boundaries but still refuses to consider any of the more expected rules to be in play, then you might find something to delight in here. For me however, each of the music tracks on Circus Screams prove such a turn off that getting to the end of this short album, even once, became a real challenge. That may delight Samson Y Hiss, it may devastate them, it may even make them a little befuddled, but unless you have a vested interest in this particularly stylised approach, then there's little to invite you over its threshold.

Unfortunately the back and forth story sections during the four "Voices" cuts are clunky in the extreme. The feeling that you're listening to am-dram noir an uncomfortable one, but not in the spooky, eerie manner hoped for. This is a toe curler. Yet somehow I'm guessing the collective that come together under their band leader's name expected that all along. That said, I've no doubt there's a rabid, dedicated following for this stuff (the band/artist have been very successful at crowd funding, so people are more than happy to get their pocket involved) but for me it all feels a little too far beyond left field and into the almost voyeur market.

Apologies, this ain't for me. Too straight laced? Possibly I am, but I simply can't deny that I don't like this. I don't like it at all and while I appreciate the effort and indeed the art behind it, that doesn't mean I want to hear it ever again.

Track Listing
1. Thunder & Blades
2. Voices I
3. Highwire Hanging
4. Voices II
5. Daredevil Dance
6. Voices III
7. Corral of Fire
8. Voices IV
9. Suicide Sid

Added: March 18th 2017
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Samson Y Hiss at CD Baby
Hits: 1272
Language: english

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