Feature Carnaval1(lead)

Published on July 27th, 2013 | by Ballard Lesemann


Carnaval Elegantly Chimes in with New Album ‘Say the Bells’

Charleston-based quartet Carnaval aren’t interested in jamming on crude chord progressions or sloppy rock rhythms. Their carefully orchestrated trip is far more majestic and ambitious than one might expect from an up-and-coming act in the Carolina underground.

Armed with a polished, experimental, and bombastic new album titled Say the Bells, Carnaval has good reason to push ahead.

Their story begins with brothers Andrew and Josh Pike’s recent move from Columbia to Charleston. Both previously played together in Columbia-based indie bands Mikenpike and Twilight Armada. Andrew played guitar, and Josh handled guitar, keys, and vocals.

In Charleston, they hooked up with drummer Tom Gorecki and started writing new music as a trio. They enlisted bassist Sean Fentross soon thereafter and began playing small venues around town under the name Carnaval. Initially, much of their material was entirely instrumental, led by rich guitar work and severe dynamic swells and dissipations.


Carnaval at the Tin Roof, 2013 (photo by Ballard Lesemann)

“We started out working almost entirely with instrumental compositions,” says Andrew Pike. “The idea was trying to capture an intense classical sound using equipment typically intended for rock music.”

Over the last year, the Pike brothers served as Carnaval’s main composers. Josh wrote the lyrics to the music, and the entire quartet collaborated on the final arrangements.

The foursome compiled seven of their latest pieces on their new studio album Say the Bells (due for official release this week). They recorded them at Strawberry Skys studios in Columbia with producer/engineer Eric McCord at the helm. Violinist Hannah Leinert and cellist Katy Hovis contributed extra strings to several songs on the collection.

The Pikes and company had no classic or obscure albums in mind as they approached their latest studio project. “We used the influence of countless bands and projects to try and mold our sound.”

Between the dramatic crescendos of airy lead track “Soft Kill,” the anthemic elegance of the cello-accented “Holds Like Ghost,” the brushy, moaning tones of “Body Cast,” and the piano march of “A Home,” Say the Bells is a dramatic musical journey with expressive melancholic sentiments.

Pike says there’s not a specific running theme on Say the Bells, but the general theme is “trying to find some light in such darkness.”

“We try to think of our albums as one whole experience,” he adds. “It’s hard to tell from our perspective what piece of that whole idea people will originally be drawn to.”

Carnaval celebrates the release of Say the Bells this week with a show at the Royal American on Sat. July 27. Local acts Sleepy Eye Giant and An Era of Echoes share the bill.

“We are thrilled to have two of Charleston’s finest bands playing with us,” Pike says. “The set, as a whole, will be full of thought-provoking music.”

Check out CarnavalMusic.com for more.

      1. ‘Holds Like Ghost’ by Carnaval





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About the Author

Ballard Lesemann

is a musician and writer. Born and raised in Charleston, S.C., he spent years playing in bands and working for Flagpole Magazine in the bustling music town of Athens, Ga. He returned to his hometown and served more than seven years as the Charleston City Paper's music editor. He's better at drumming than he is at playing guitar.

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