We’re glad to announce that Naples, Italy-based progressive rock band Barnum’s Freak have released a new single, “Darkness between the light.”
Barnum’s Freak was formed in Naples in 2012 by Massimiliano Romano (guitars), Sergio Vassetti (keyboards) and Salvatore Oroso (drums). Describing their musical style and live concerts, Sergio explains that the members of Barnum’s Freak “play a predominantly instrumental Post rock / progressive to which in the past we have combined performative performances of dance and fire games. The idea was to create a multisensory and emotional live event that would therefore embrace all the senses.” Musically, the band draws inspiration from 80s progressive and instrumental releases, especially by artists such as “Marillon, Rush, Alan Parson, Pink Floyd, Camel, and Mike Oldfield.”
Regarding the inspiration for the themes that Barnum’s Freak explore in their music, the band writes, “On February 25, 1835, the public dissection of the corpse of Joice Heth, an African American woman, took place in New York at the amphitheater of the City Saloon. It was the last useful opportunity for the public to see the body of the woman, who had exhibited for a long time – or rather, had been exhibited – in the northeastern region of the United States of America: during the tour, under the careful organization of the young entrepreneur Phineas Taylor Barnum, the character of Joice Heth had assumed various identities, being presented from time to time as the longest-lived human being on the planet, as the nurse of George Washington, as a very religious African American who performed to redeem her slave grandchildren in Kentucky, without considering the many rumors about her that the woman was in fact a mummy or in reality that woman was just different. The different in physique, behavior and morality, such as were judged idiots, madmen, gypsies, brigands, fools, prostitutes, natives of distant lands, all these ‘other -‐ from-‐ we,’ in short, in the nineteenth century they became ‘monsters.’
The tent of the American circus Barnum provides the visitor with an extraordinary and hallucinating show: the freak show was representative of a more general transformation in the approach to otherness, the ‘strange’ body was no longer perceived as a prodigious event or a divine sign, but rather it was interpreted as an error, an exception to the regular course of nature. Any man, any woman, if ‘strange,’ any anomalous body, suitably disguised and shown in public according to certain precise strategies, was a freak. The monsters to be exhibited are men with behaviors that our culture considers immoral: nudity, sexual freedom, polygamy, lack of hierarchy, traditional drug use. The monster is necessary for the mental integrity of all of us and, in spite of itself, increases the cohesion of the so-called normals against forms of deviance. Certainly a confused idea, yet sufficient to satisfy primordial longings for normality: that opaque desire for conformity and homologation that each of us has deep inside.”
As was the case during the 19th century, the theme of resisting conformity imposed by society is still quite relevant to the world today; as the band writes, “The world we live in today is a system created with art to hide a terrible reality from the invididual …. that we are all slaves, locked up in a prison that has no walls, which has no bars, which has no smell, .. a prison for our mind ….“
Prior to releasing their new single, Barnum’s Freak released their debut album in 2014, Revolution Loading (which includes the tracks “Neway” and “Appearance,” which they have released as singles). The album received excellent reviews on various newspapers and blogs specialized in progressive music (such as Rock.it, Progarchives, and Italian Prog Map). As Sergio describes Barnum’s Freak’s presence in the underground progressive rock community, “Until now we have never entered the Mainstream market preferring a more underground profile based on few but quality performances. Our music has been very appreciated by the insiders and has also received a lot of enthusiasm among fans of the genre.”
With 2021’s single “Darkness between the light,” Barnum’s Freak further showcase their excellent musicianship and innovative songwriting skills throughout this highly dynamic track, which features creative interplay between the keyboards, guitar, bass, drums, and vocals. The music is melodically and rhythmically complex, without sounding overly indulgent; and it conjures a feeling that is simultaneously uplifting and majestic. I especially enjoy hearing the various synth textures, which remind me of progressive rock bands from the 80s such as Rush and Yes; and I also appreciate the imaginative song structure of this track, which is full of surprising shifts in tempo, rhythm, and melody. “Darkness between the light” is a highly enjoyable listen, and I would definitely recommend this new single by Barnum’s Freak to fans of progressive rock.
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