What is Carnival Symposium ?
Carnival Symposium is a Rock Orchestral Steampunk conceptual album. It features real orchestral instruments powered up with drum, percussive sections and singing. It is a huge sound research involving hundreds of tracks mixed up by song, dealing with artificial and acoustical elements as well. Scoring began in October 2008 (two weeks after the first album : Whimsical Fantasy!). It features fifty-two minutes of a raw Rock / Orchestral modern music punctuated by percussion and heavily surrounded by a dark and industrial atmosphere. Divided in eight original tracks, the album deals with the contrast between wide, massive orchestral parts and intimate moments of a minimalist proximity.
Also featuring the singers Captain John Sprocket from the recognized American Steampunk Folk Band The Cog Is Dead, and Jessica Donati from the French Symphonic Metal Band Ivalys, the album is the very compromise between instrumental and vocal music. The album is packaged in a complete digipack. Entirely illustrated by Aurélien Police, it’s not only the cover, but the whole packaging linked to the music that is thought like an ensemble. The booklet is replaced by a tremendous illustrated frieze, also featuring the lyrics.
What is Steampunk ?
The Steampunk world is an uchrony : The projection of a world that never existed. The Steampunk uchrony draws the idea of a world where the technology has evolved through steam power. In order to get more and more power, steam requires bigger and bigger power plants, that’s why the Steampunk world trends to gigantism instead of the traditional miniaturisation the world is known for. This gigantisation of a pre-industrial world conducts to enormous and various architectural elements like giant cogs, factories, and indeed, a perpetual smoky fog.
The album has been created with the support of the emerging French Steampunk community, that counts an average of 1700 members on their forum for more than 5.000 topics created, covering more than 100.000 messages. The Steampunk art and universe cover video games, music, clothes, books, custom moding and a lot more. The album has been built with a very talented and already well known illustrator operating in this branch : Aurélien Police. He is practicing a digital art called mixed media. Different sources of medias are used to combine heteroclyts elements in order to create an ensemble. The main process to create the artworks of Carnival Symposium was actually in “the Steampunk way”, like the creation of a clock : Using very small elements, that can work together to create a coherent and powerful ensemble.
Aurélien Police, works in various fields, from the making off of disc jackets to books’ covers and illustrations of press articles or RPG. His work being almost entirely based on numeric creation, he uses computer technology as a melting pot to mix all sorts of raw materials from photography to scanning of paintings and drawings…
Steampunk and sound.
The main issue was : How can we represent Steampunk ? How do we hear it ? Which sounds or instruments let us think about industries ? What kind of melodies can we use ? What kind of technologies ?
By the use of tube and ribbon technologies during recording and post production, we have recreated the essence of a warm sound that was characterising music in the early 1900’s. As it’s a studio project, the post production work was a very important part and compromise in order to find the good balance between old fashioned sound and contemporary music. As the Steampunk trends to gigantism instead of miniaturisation, a lot of instruments and sounds were processed and recorded in order to obtain a wide and very dense sound (Didgeridoo, Theremin, etc …).
The mastering, final step of the post production process was also a worry. François Fanelli at Sonics Mastering had to keep enough output level so the music can be listened as any other modern music without sacrificing the dynamic or even the sound. Working with the good frequencies and having a nearly full analogical facility, he found the “steamy” side of the music located in the treble, contrasted with- as he said – the telluric and industrial feeling of the basses.