October 16, 2015

  • Midnight Syndicate Does Christmas

    Composer/director Edward Douglas and Gavin Groska now move from the holiday more attuned to their Gothic sensibilities, Halloween, to Christmas in this new album designed especially for their many fans.  Midnight Syndicate is the group most responsible for the music we hear at some of the major horror-themed amusement park rides.  Most of their work tends to fall into a blend of Gothic-styled horror music with tinges of Bernard, Herrmann, Skinner, and Salter.

    While the world may not need another Christmas album, at least this one has a rather unique flair.  The selections here blend together favorite carols (usually cast in minor keys) and Christmastime musical themes with a few original works as well often lending a darker quality to the music.  “Carol of the Bells” is perhaps a perfect example of this interesting blend of the group’s style with this more melancholy feel which works equally well for the “Coventry Carol” later.  It sort of ends up sounding like something we might here in Elfman’s The Nightmare Before Christmas but with a fuller “orchestral” style (especially true if the intenser “Up on the Housetop”).  The arrangement of “Greensleeves” also is excellent.  What is also interesting is that when familiar tunes are used, they are given enough variation to lend just a slight touch of compelling musical listening.  Original tracks like “Night of the Krampus” and “Little Helpers” may have little meaning for some, but it allows for a bit of cinematic musical storytelling.  Sections like this also provide a rather engaging experience that helps the album come together more as a single concept rather than a simple retread of Christmas music.  High-quality samples and choral sounds are intermixed with organ, harpsichord, and string backdrops with percussion and additional ambient sounds added with “brass”.  Once in a while the additional flourishes and musical tropes are lifted from horror-genre scoring which is still handled fairly well here.

    When first contacted to review this release there was a bit of trepidation.  However, the end result here works quite well and it may not be in your normal Christmastime musical rotation, the end results are a well-conceived listening experience that is quite engaging.  For more information check their website:  www.MidnightSyndicate.com.