CD Review

Virgil – “Klown” & “Dyers Eve”

By Marcus Pan

KlownI opted to write up two of Virgil’s three releases he had sent me herein, owing to the fact that both Klown and Dyers Eve are a bit clowny. A carnival atmosphere here, though not your standard fair B&B circus tripe. A darker carnival of course, as you probably already expected being that it’s being reviewed here. It reminds me of a recent episode of that silly cartoon Danny Phantom wherein the Circus Gothica came to town.

Klown was tripped out in 2005 and includes ten tracks of carney gloom, with an additional nine of “Special Featured Klown Tracks” which seem to be not much beyond quotes and the occasional laugh that I found a bit…annoying at album’s end. Die Laughing makes me think somehow of Tubular Bells with its soft but eerie flutey melody. With slow moving electronics and slight drum movements it grows evil as it grows louder. Very enjoyable.

Circus Hell is so fruity that you barely notice the fact that it sounds like it’s oozing from the ground like a zombie clown just hoping to laugh close enough to suck your brain out of your ears. Rotten Rubber Nose is a familiar carnival song, what you would hear when the acrobats come out. It’s not as eerily touched as some of the others on Klown…a 3 ½ minute respite amidst the glamor of darker melodies.

Klown will hop from subtle eeriness to blatant over the top silliness at will, chasing your mind back and forth as it goes. They Taste Funny is a silly song, for example, while Organ Grinder remains a bit so but infuses it with a subtle glamour of strangeness somehow by floating the melodies away from one another like there’s a big patch of nothingness in the center that becomes part of the arrangement. I like the way the following, Sicko’s Lair, will tumble into this center of nothing and strain to reach you from inside its own demise. And Blood on the Sawdust, the closing track of the first set, is infused with such off kilter melodies that its one of the most disconcerting recordings I’ve found.

Dyer's EveThe final nine tracks are the “Special Featured Klown Tracks”, with featured clowns as you’d expect. I don’t know clowns…so those that do might find inclusions like Baldo, J.R. Conley, Tyler Barnett and Steve Kristof a big deal (is there clown fandom?). To me, however, who is not a member of any clown fan clubs…I find it pretty much the same as the first ten except guys trying to sound goofy and scary at the same time saying things about circus life. Some of the clown laughing is a bit contrived too…is there still a clown college I wonder? Overall, I just found it a bit boring to have another nine tracks playing pretty much the same (or similar) thing as the previous ten and put not overly well done “evil clown” voices on top. I must say, however, the final Get Down Klown is electro-funky.

The downside to Klown is that Virgil tends to not get as creative with his work once he gets going. Tracks that run over four minutes don’t go beyond what I would expect a two minute track to do, with a bit too much repetition in the make-up and not as much addition to the usually-minimal creations. Clowns are, however by default, scary as hell and there’s nobody on this planet that will convince me otherwise. People who wear that much make-up are hiding something, no two ways about it.

Dyers Eve is said to be an original score from the motion picture of the same name. The same carnival and clowny themes are explored here, which is why I’ve lumped these two particular releases together for review. Also released in 2005, based on the track names and the sounds I hear we can go ahead and assume that Dyers Eve is not a chick flick by any means. It’s also larger in scope and sound than Virgil’s previous musical endeavors. Hell Hath No Fury begins with an orchestral piece just under two minutes that rivals work by Nox Arcana[1] or Midnight Syndicate[2] in make-up. What follows are some very short tracks seeking to build a foul mood and dark ambience.

After orchestra-like arrangements, however short, the fifth track, Tortured Love, is a slow moving piano dirge that’s very well arranged and played with a somber melancholy that infuses the mood. Vengeance Will Be Mine grows to a symphonic crescendo before we’re tumbled into another abyss with the dark trappings of Don’t Go Into the Basement which is followed by another piano solo, Love At Last, showing Virgil’s classical arrangement once again. Get Down Clown from Klown is also here on track 18 and while I dug it before it just doesn’t seem to fit within the confines of the symphony-based Dyers Eve disc.

Dyers Eve is by far one of the better releases by Virgil, with much more orchestration and not nearly as repetitive as his previous. Definite highlights are tracks like Tortured Love, Erika’s Theme and Love At Last, slow piano pieces that show classical training hidden in the ambience of Virgil’s mind. Overall, Dyer’s Eve gets a thumbs up from me while Klown I found to get a bit repetitive and blasé by its end.

Contact Information:
Virgil Franklin
Post: R4 Box 2325, Linton, IN, 47441, USA
[1] Interviewed in Legends #156.
[2] Midnight Syndicate’s latest, The 13th Hour, was reviewed in Legends #152.