Mannheim Steamroller

American Gramaphone Records, 2003


REVIEW BY: Adam Mico


Mannheim Steamroller is Chip Davis ( synthesizers and eclectic archaic instruments) and interchangeable musicians. Since 1984, this "group" has continued with oddball and twisted versions of Christmas and the new age Fresh Aire series. Yes, you or your parents likely have at least one of Chip's releases.

Having previously listened to numerous Mannheim Steamroller recordings, I realize that his vision is unique and inspired creative dependency. In fact, the balance of his superior work is Mannheim's signature redefinitions of previously composed material.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

On Halloween, familiar pieces include Bach's "Tocacata in deMole" (think Phantom of the Opera), Alfred Hitchcock Present's "The Funeral March of the Marionettes," "Rite of Twilight" ( Twilight Zone theme including tasty morsels from Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring") and Apocalypse Now's helicopter theme (Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries"). However, out of the 13 tracks included in the music CD (the 2nd disc in Halloween is EFX), six are Chip Davis originals.

Not surprisingly, Mannheim's "derangements" of familiar compositions are sensational. Falling victim to the most obvious haunts, I was immediately drawn to the inspired arrangements of "Tocacata in deMole" and "Rite of Twilight." Both are quite clever and most appropriately reflective of Halloween. Each of Davis' pleasing originals are ghoulishly titled, but are so joyfully slaphappy that a listener may not be aware that he/she is listening to music reflecting All Hallows Eve (also a song title on Music).

On the other hand, EFX is quite terrifying. 40 minutes of digital sound effects are slashed over 10 tracks. It's actually the most chilling "typical" Halloween effects recording that I've ever heard. Ghouls, ghosts, the Reaper, aliens and death saturate. The campiness that sweetens the initial CD is entirely cast out in EFX.

My only critique is of the party mix suggestion located on the back of the case. It suggests that these discs should be put in a multi-disc and randomly sequenced on shuffle. Differences in each recording are so jarring that following this notion makes Halloween a scattered monstrosity.

Regardless, Halloween (when listened to separately) definitely treats all beings (dead or alive) that appreciate haunts from the comical ( The Rocky Horror Picture Show) to the chilling ( 28 Days Later). If you need to update your ancient Halloween cassette tapes, but are completely lost as to what to purchase, Halloween by Mannheim Steamroller is foolproof.

Rating: A-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


© 2003 Adam Mico and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of American Gramaphone Records, and is used for informational purposes only.