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FRINGE '04: Carousel


Venue Happy

When Sat 14 Feb, 8pm & 9.30pm Sun 15 Feb, 8pm & 9.30pm

Tickets $5 waged $10 concession $8 fringe card holder Bookings from ticketek, doorsales at Happy

Sinister gypsy fairground music is the currency of Carousel, the ensemble of jazz, classical and celtic defectors often seen busking in Cuba Mall, stealing passers-by into their fairy circle with entrancing blends of acoustic cello, violin, mandolin, banjo, guitar and vocals.

The name Carousel evokes colourful images of all the things that go with carnivals and circuses, particularly the macabre. Carnival is not exactly a New Zealand tradition, which makes Carousel’s style unique in these parts, whilst drawing on a cross-culturally experienced concept.

Carousel is an innovative, genre-breaking acoustic quartet based in Wellington. You'll hear echoes of classical, jazz, newgrass, Celtic, tango, and gypsy, but these are mainly frameworks for departure, rather than compositional centres in Carousel’s original music.

Carousel consists of cellist Francesca Mountfort, violinist/vocalist Susan Colien-Ried and the father and son team of Peter and Eli Mrkusich on guitar, mandolin, and banjo. This unorthodox line-up of instruments is the seedbed from which their innovations spring.

The wealth of experience that amasses in Carousel includes Francesca Mountfort, the glamourous cellist whose credits include Box of Birds, Leila Adu, Mr Sterile Assembly and multimedia duo Chair Water Air.

Father-and-son duo Peter and Eli Mrkusich have played together in a number of notable bands over the years. Susan Colien-Reid is a wayward classically-trained violinist whose compositions have featured on National Radio. She has previously supported Hello Sailor and Judy Small.

CD review

Carousel’s self-titled debut CD seems a mature and impressive offering from a group that have only been around for two years. The studio-live recording features songwriting that credits all the members. The variety in style is something of a musical kaleidoscope that remains well controlled and fluently conveyed through the eleven tracks.

This is the kind of ingenuity that tends to arise from more experienced musicians such as Carousel, who know their instruments inside out and also what’s been before. Highlights include the evil clown soundtrack ‘Chucky’s Big Day Out’, Susan Colien-Reid’s lullaby vocals, the gorgeous fingerpicked ‘Marika’ and the insistent somnolence of the closing track, ‘Rainstorm’. I have stuck Carousel in the gaping hole in my CD collection between Hummel and Verona. I have found it rather useful for wistful and melodic moments that are neither ambient nor spry. Suraya Singh - The Package


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