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Casablanca - 2015 Miskatonic Graffiti

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ARTIST: Casablanca
ALBUM: Miskatonic Graffiti
LABEL: Despotz Records
YEAR: 2015


LINEUP: Anders Ljung - vocals * Josephine Forsman - drums * Erik Almstrom, Ryan Roxie, Erik Stenemo - guitar * Mats Rubarth - bass

TRACK LISTING: 01 Enter The Mountains [three part act] * 02 Closer * 03 This Is Tomorrow * 04 My Shadow Out Of Time * 05 RE Old Money * 06 Sister * 07 Nme Rank Serial Killer * 08 Miskatonic Graffiti * 09 She Was The One * 10 Exit The Mountains [three part act]



I don't know too much about this Swedish outfit. All I will admit to is seeing their handle blasted around on Facebook. They look like a glam band with melodic rock leanings. Think Enuff Znuff or D*A*D but operating in the tier immediately below. What intrigued me about their 2015 offering 'Miskatonic Graffiti' was the unusual album title, plus the fact that this is a concept album. Really? Wow, that sounds like an enormous challenge, and exceptionally difficult to pull off, particularly if you are operating out of the glam/hard rock sub-genre, because usually, those two things mix together like oil and water. Prog I would expect, but not this. So, do these Swedes rise to the challenge?

The Songs
Well before we answer that question, we need to ask a couple more. What about the title? Miskatonic comes from the literary world of H.P Lovecraft. The teller of tall tales in the horror fiction/gothic and dark fantasy genres, who operated back in the 1920's and 1930's before his untimely death in 1937 at the age of 46. In fact it refers to Miskatonic University, a reference in some of Lovecraft's works during the 1920's. The concept that Casablanca are threading here evolves around Lovecraft's ancient alien character Chuthulu, which sounds like something out of Doctor Who. In fact, this is the sort of subject matter Blue Oyster Cult should have done, though it's highly likely their 'Imaginos' album was indirectly inspired by Lovecrafts' writings. So with this detail in mind, how does the music stack up? For starters, there are no cinematic soundscapes, no spoken word narrative or lush layered synths a la Tangerine Dream. Nothing of the sort actually. It's just glam based hard rock with the point of difference being the lyrics and the subject matter. You'll need to spend some time with this to get to the bottom of it, because the music and the message aren't necessarily on the same page. I'm not saying it's any good, it's just very different. The album is preceded by the three part act 'Enter The Mountains', as well as a three part act closing out the album 'Exit The Mountains'. In between are eight tracks filling out the back-story.

In Summary
Maybe in a few years, 'Miskatonic Graffiti' might be seen as a long-lost closet classic, so if you're up to the challenge, you may want to get exposed to Casablanca's works before too long. Despotz Records have also issued this as a 2LP set, so that might be the best version to get your hands on, as there is likely to be some interesting liner notes within. Go for it!

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#1 | reyno-roxx on December 06 2015 09:33:03
Bassist Mats Rubarth is a bit of a hero of mine. Not only does he play bass in Casablanca, but he used to play professional football for AIK, where he was a cult figure, and had been capped at international level by Sweden.
#2 | englandashes on December 06 2015 13:21:41
Yep, enjoyed their last two albums, both recommended, so need to get hold of this one. Great story about Mats Rubarth, wasn't aware of this, of course we had Thomas Hassler being part behind MTM, but only had Hoodle and Waddle, and Kevin Keegan doing anything musical, but of course not to same standards as Mats.
#3 | reyno-roxx on December 06 2015 17:07:07
Paul McGreggor, when a player at F****t was the guitarist/vocalist in a Brit Pop rock band called Merc, who briefly adopted a clever version of the club tricky tree logo until told not to. He played on loan for Carlisle and Preston before moving to Plymouth Argyle. He gave up football for music and formed Ulterior, becoming a part of the goth rock movement and touring with the likes of Sisters Of Mercy. Merc were a decent band for the time. I had the demo as I interviewed Paul for an unpublished article I'm a sports mag Jon Hotten was editing at the time.

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