Just to prove that insanity can be the sweetest potent seduction The Wonderful World Of Weird is here to exploit and uncover the darkest secrets of your mind whilst travelling the exotic and dangerous mental halls of its creator Mr. Strange. The former frontman of the UK’s greatest still to be truly discovered musical mutants The Shanklin Freak Show, though he is still healthily involved in the band, Mr. Strange voraciously stalks the senses and emotions with his fourth album. It is a release which soundtracks a bedlam of sound and adventure from a quite maniacal imagination.
The Isle Of Wight hailing songwriter/producer/vocalist/musician began his musical exploration as ‘The Mad DJ’ in 1998 before emerging as Mr. Strange in 2006. He founded circus rock/steampunk band The Shanklin Freak Show in 2003, guiding the band as songwriter and vocalist up until starting an extended break from performing live at the end of 2011. Alongside The Shanklin Freak Show albums including Act II – The Light Fantastic of 2009 and Welcome To The Show of 2011, a few other projects, and producing a couple of albums by Global Citizen, Mr. Strange unleashed his solo musical rapaciousness. Sounds From The Asylum came first to be followed in 2011 by the releases of The Fall and Freakshow, the last a 38 track retrospective album chronicling the songs that he wrote under the Shanklin Freak Show name which included new, unreleased, and re-recorded or re-mixed tracks. Now the sanity puppeteer steps forward again with the magnificent temptation of The Wonderful World Of Weird, the finest Mr. Strange musical and mental examination yet.
With more flavours than a giant box of Jelly Bellies, the album is a dramatic and exhilarating flight through the darkest yet magnetically and vibrantly compelling mind of the fictional character of its creator, employing everything and anything from industrial and steampunk to gothic rock and progressive metal, and that is just scratching the surface. With many of the tracks co-written with Gary ‘Stench’ Mason, The Shanklin Freak Show guitarist and provider of the majority of the guitar invention across the release, the album immediately lures in senses and imagination with the opening spoken narrative leading in the title track. It instantly intrigues as the scene setting premise strolls into the irresistible stomp of the song. Rhythms bounce around with a heavy mischievous gait matched by the electro and bass taunting whilst the guitar casts lines of sonic and melodic bait which is pure infectious toxicity. Best described as Dr. Jekyll meets ICP as early Marilyn Mansion helps Victor Frankenstein create aural life for them to toy with upon a set designed by Willy Wonka, the track is a delicious fascination and the first irresistible hint of the lunacy to come.
Creating the World is an expansion to the landscape previously crafted with a gentle psychedelic ambience washing the dawning scenery. It is a mesmeric, almost meditative soaring of harmonies and guitar elegance with rubs of dub and scratching teasing the riveting flight. The seducing continues right up to the doorway into the Psycho Surfing-A-Go-Go, one of the major pinnacles upon the album. Again as between numerous songs, the narrator lays down an invitation before the surf rock contagion drops its shoulders and swerves through the ear with irrepressible virulence. The grooves enslave the passions within seconds whilst the rhythmic dance only builds a cage for rapture to breed within as fire kissed keys add smouldering lures to the hot and epidemically addictive romp of sonic lava. The song is one of the best heard anywhere this year; a beach party in the mind of Hunter S. Thompson hosted by The Cramps and The Bomboras with Two Wounded Birds, B52s, and The Revillos adding extra entertainment.
From the dark sinister realm of The World’s Dark Heart, Mr. Strange lurks in the steampunk/industrial graced world of Metropolis 2984, a track which equally extends some classic metal and psyche sculpted imagination to its captivating persuasion. There is a swing and energy to the track which infects feet and emotions but equally an underlying dark tone beneath the celestially soaring harmonies which suggest more 1984 than Fritz Lang. Again the album and artist has the listener in a tight grip of pleasure and suasion, though it never slipped from the first breath of the album to be fair, which tightens with firstly Clockwork Man and explodes through Fire. The first of the two stalks the ears with the drama and theatre of a Tim Burton vision sculpted by the melodic ingenuity of Danny Elfman, though it has to be noted that every song despite the references sound like no one but Mr. Strange. This masterful manipulation of the senses and passions is soon left in the shade by its successor, the track another major peak in nothing but highs. The song is the closest to a Shanklin Freak Show tune that the album gets, its sexy tango pulsating mouth-watering foreplay for the beats and funk bred keys to add intoxicating spice to. There is something familiar to the hooks and stomp of the song aside from the earlier comparison, but it is indefinable and wholly galvanic.
Through the noir shadows of Don’t Stay (Where the Dead Ones Lay) with its jazz smooching funk lined temptation and the excellent gothic majesty of White Rabbit, the song reminding of The Damned at times, The Wonderful World Of Weird intensifies its resistance free toxin whilst the electro swing heart of Exile and the psychedelia soaked gothic tempting of Anti-Christ only spark further flames of lustful submission to the call of the release and its psychotic beauty. Every song is a wanton temptress in whatever guise and sonic clothing they frequent, and though admittedly hopes and expectations were of big things from Mr. Strange on past successes, the album left those assumptions insultingly short of the brilliant reality.
Completed by the classically crafted Journeys End, an enchanting epilogue if not to the levels of what came before, The Wonderful World Of Weird is pure certifiable aural manna. The CD version also has a track exclusive to its version, a very enjoyable cover of the Dr. Steel track We Decide. The able shows that there is only one Mr. Strange and his form of weird, one you can charter a sensational cruise through via our favourite album of the year, The Wonderful World Of Weird, that is if you are brave or eccentric enough.
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