Sunday, December 19, 2010
LIFE IS JUST A CARNIVAL - KOLONOVITS not BEEFHEART
Captain Beefheart (Don Van Vliet) passed on the other day, and since he was very well known, and well bootlegged, and well downloaded, not much needs to be said about him here. Except that the "awful awful diseases" that Warren Zevon sang about, do strike even the rock titans, and it's sad to realize that a guy who was often struggling for money in pursuit of his unique vision, was in the end struggling against multiple sclerosis. Among those who chose to be weird and challenging, the Captain certainly ended up a lot more famous than, say, Kolonovits…who did create one very provocative album before he moved on to much more lucrative things.
Circa 1977, a strange album called "Life Is Just a Carnival" appeared…an odd audio collage of electronica and dada, inspired by everything from Lennon's "Strawberry Fields" to the symphonic Zappa, and even the sorrowful balladry of Nilsson. That's all the tease you need to download four representative tracks: "Life is Just a Carnival" "Join the Carnival" "Society" and the spoken "TV Love Story," just as they rolled off side one of the album originally released on CBS in Germany…and which some eBay sellers hope will put some dinner on the table.
CBS/Columbia in America wanted no part of 25 year-old Christian Kolonovits, so it took a few years before an indie label pressed a few thousand copies. The album notes declared: "With this album the artist tears off the mask and gives up the role forced upon him. His keyboards fly unfettered. The compositions are rich with the baroque influence of Bach and the purity of Gregorian chant. Kolonovits is a new name in the States. Soon it will be known, admired and sought after by all lovers of outstanding progressive European music." While the album was ignored as an eccentric item from an unknown, "Life is Just a Carnival" was only the beginning, and this musician has had a full career over the last three decades. Though not particularly as a singer/songwriter of his own symphonic rock epics.
Christian was born in Burgenland, the son of a Croatian father and a Hungarian mother…which might mean that he would understand getting bootlegged by some asshole blogger in Croatia, but would still feel gloomy about it. He studied piano, cello and composition at the Vienna Music Academy, and in 1980 after his solo album and a year in France, he came back to Vienna to produce a variety of Austropop artists including Wolfgang Ambros, Reinhard Fendrich and Ludwig Hirsch. He later composed movie and TV scores (including the 2008 movie "North Face"). According to his website his projects have garnered 70 gold and platinum awards. Which isn't to say he's got that many statues on his desk, but produced or engineered or had a writing credit on some very successful discs.
He's worked with Placido Domingo, Kiri Te Kanawa, Sarah Brightman, Helmut Lotti, Michael Bolton, Patricia Kaas and the Scorpions. As one might have expected from the eccentric glimpse of orchestral bravado on "Life is Just a Carnival," the guy has spent most of his past decade as a producer, arranger and conductor, working with the Vienna Smphony, Berlin Philharmonic, Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, Budapest Philharmonic, and others. In 2006 he wrote for the British band Tiger Lillies (not to be confused with a British punk band of an almost similar name, which has floundered without its founding lead vocalist.) He wrote tracks for "Sting in the Tail" by the Scorpions and most recently produced the debut album for Alexandra Schertler. And if you go and check, he maintains rather stern poses of himself at kolonovits.com (including the inset B&W on this page). Perhaps he is still asking the musical question: "Life is just a carnival…isn't it a joke??"
LIFE IS JUST A CARNIVAL Instant download or listen on line. No capcha codes, wait time, or whines about paying for a premium account.