Circus Screams

Samson Y Hiss

Independent release, 2016

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


Samson Y Hiss was reportedly raised by gypsies and spent his early years learning sleight of hand and selling snake oil. Not long after that he started picking up instruments and embarked on a musical career while evading the law. As a street performer he was spotted playing on piers atop a unicycle, but Hiss also pursued formal education in music, picking up degrees along the way.

It's an orthodox upbringing, but not without its charm, and only makes (some) sense when you hear his work. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

“Thunder & Blades” opens up the affair with the sound of an elephant's trunk, which is aptly complemented with fuzzy trumpets and low organs. It's the soundtrack to a trapeze artist and a bear jumping rope in a tutu, but it has the ominous feel of danger, augmented by the sound of occasional woman screaming.

“Voices I” follows, and is just that – a voice that alternates between talking and singing to tell a story of a woman being stabbed. It's a morbid circus opera tune, where lovely singing does not quite align with the storyteller's confession of him just getting started on the killing.

“Highwire Hanging” continues with a similar muffed trumpet meets funeral doom style organs, only it's a little more upbeat. Next up is “Voices II,” where the narrator relays the story of a circus woman falling from a great height. “Daredevil Dance” takes on more of a marching band feel with emphasis on percussion, and “Voices III” details the death of the subject of the previous song, but it is less descriptive about the manner of death. “Corral Of Fire” starts off with a more classical feel before tubas, trombones, and trumpets take over, and the complementary “Voices IV” is a vague declaration of things being over, alluding to the cessation of the narrator’s own life. The album closes on “Suicide Sid,” which is four and a half minutes of moody percussion, hazy organs, and solemn horns with the occasional gasping of air for vocals.

Is twisted carnival rock a genre yet? If not, Samson Y Hiss may have just started it. Listening to this album is probably going to make everyone a little uncomfortable, but like any circus disaster, you're oddly unable to turn away.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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