Freak Show 1991

A very enjoyable and interesting collection of nine songs, sung in a variety of voices, about a freak show, its inhabitants, and its visiting audience. As with Bad Day, playing the CD-ROM really enhanced my appreciation of this album, although, as each track here is a self-contained portrait/profile of an individual character, you may find that Freak Show is better able than Bad Day to stand alone as an audio-only work. An elaborate exploration of digital music, monotone and fairground atmospherics.

First it was an album, then a comic, then a CD-ROM, then a CD-ROM soundtrack album … Freak Show has a track devoted to each performer (plus one for Lillie, a member of the audience so strange she freaks out the freaks). We get to meet characters like Benny The Bouncing Bump, Jelly Jack The Boneless Boy and so on. The music is much darker than Cube-E and tracks like Jelly Jack are positively disturbing. Harry The Head is the easiest on the ear with female vocals and an almost singalong chorus (there was a superb Jim Ludkte computer animated video made for this track). A sinister fairground atmosphere is evoked with Tex the barker inviting us to come in and make our mundane lives "seem like the kiss of bliss", but as we are informed at the end "nobody laughs when they leave".