The creators behind Midnight Syndicate have always been much more than a one-note “It was a dark and stormy night.” I don’t like movies in the horror vein that everyone but me seems to love.  Hitchcock and his colleagues, as great and lesser, were all about suspense.  My imagination is vast and graphic and music always paints graphic color pictures. Midnight Syndicate paints pictures that are beautiful, muted, subtle and dark, seamlessly, seemingly without effort AND their recordings always tell a story with a beginning, middle, though not always a happy ending. They are extremely talented artists, honestly.

The last few years I have been buried in books and writing for graduate applications and listening to a lot of jazz, so I am not even sure if this is there latest effort.  It’s 2023, so I suspect they are working on something new. I promised I would review this so here we are in a schizophrenic winter, in Ohio of all places, letting the music carry us to a faraway place.

The first track, “Bloodlines” elicits shades of the haunted organ from, the “Ghost and Mr. Chicken,” so delightfully and disturbingly composed by the legendary Vic Mizzy. This is a more somber effort, but the organ always seems to evoke Mizzy and Don Knotts for me because I spent a lot of time on Saturday afternoons watching old movies on television. This begins on a somewhat funereal note, calling forth the powers from beyond or elsewhere that we probably don’t want to chit chat with anyone lingering about. But if you listen carefully along, a curious gathering of people or souls begins to multiply during the “Assembly.”

“Ancestral Decree,” without even peaking at the liner notes, tells me someone isn’t happy with the way the grandchildren have been carrying on, and something is about to happen, something unknown, something ominous, perhaps something that generations to come will pay for. In mysterious and possibly terrifying ways. And the way that everyone is whispering, no one is backing down just so they can make it to pleasant dreams safely. What is going to transpire?  Is it a race to Who will emerge victorious?

Is it a dream or is it a nightmare? “Light in the Attic” portends of ominous things, curious things, unknown things. Who is watching? Who is waiting? What is their intention? Is it a race to escape, or is it a race to rescue a sweetheart, or is it an even race to explore that mysterious attic, or did Grandpa just fall asleep in the big chair by the fireplace reading ghost stories?

“Sands of Time” bring us full circle in this musical story-arc.  It is a story, yes, but who really knows if it is fact or fiction or the product of an incredibly creative, fertile and graphic musical imagination? It could be anything, but it is the product of the wonderful creativity of the musical minds of Edward Douglas and Gavin Goszka, along with occasional collaborators and rare vocalists. The duo have even scored a movie, a rare occurrence for the two who routinely and seamlessly produce soundtracks for movies that have never been made, other than those that play in our imaginations while we listen to the creative output of such talented composers. Check out their vast catalogue here, and maybe stream a few things and buy a few other things.

RadioMike, 14 February 2023

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