Circus Contraption

Ewww, carnies!

Circus Contraption is a band that is really hard to classify.  Forced to classify them I put them under Eastern European albeit not completely accurate but it’s as close as I can get to the jazz-gypsy-vaudeville- klezmer-circus-big band-cabaret style of music they play.  You see Circus Contraption is the real deal, a single ring circus troop that tours the north west United States putting on adult oriented cabaret/circus shows.  They’ve been around now since 1998 and in that time have toured with many different shows.  Every few years or so they release an album to go with a particular show.  I’m not sure how they chose which shows will get a album to accompany it but whatever the reason is they need to make more.

Circus Contraption’s music while taking elements from so many other genres remains extremely original.  One thing a listener needs to keep in mind is that much of this music has been written for their live shows so boisterous vocals and over the top story telling is plentiful as would be expected in a theatrical performance.  Besides the songs containing vocals these albums have some fine instrumental tracks utilizing a extremely wide range of instruments.  Here’s a quick rundown of some of the instruments they employ, accordion, banjo, saw, guitar, piano, drums, bass, trumpet, bells, clarinet, alto sax, organ, glockenspiel, trombone, concertina, etc.  It’s hard to comment on the Circus Contraption members themselves as they are quite abundant and ever changing.  They don’t call them circus troupes for nothing, there really is a bunch of them.  Suffice it to say that co-founders David Crellin and Lara Paxton have done an excellent job getting this thing started and will hopefully keep it going for years to come.

As I said earlier so far Circus Contraption has released each album to coincide with their touring act of the same show title.  So far four albums have been released and of the four my fave is Gallimaufry.  It has a really dark circus feel to it.  The track “Stilt Faeries” from that album is perfect in the way it is so simple and yet sets the mood exactly.  All four of the albums are solid though.  Here they are…

1) Our Latest Catalogue [2001]
2) Gallimaufry [2004]
3) Grand American Traveling Dime Museum CD [2005]
4) The Half Wit’s Descent [2008]

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