You’ve gotta feel for the Ferris Wheel. It’s not an easy life, taking people up and down to infinity, your passengers enjoying their temporary trips while you’re chained to the ground.
But what if the Ferris Wheel just up and rolled away? What would become of us? What would we be left with?
One of the best albums of the 2018 Calendar Year.
Ferris Wheel’s Day Off is an opus more than two years in the making. It was written by the members of the band Mungion, with contributions from a variety of musical guests, many of them local musicians from the Chicago area, where the band is based.
Before we go any further, however, we must address something: Mungion does not rhyme with dungeon. It’s pronounced “mung-yin”.
From the opening notes of the album’s opening song, “One Night Stan,” we are given music that seems to shine and sparkle in the way that an amusement park ride shines and sparkles. The music in this album comprises a many-colored palette of ideas that from track to track will leave you wondering if you’re hearing the same four musicians throughout.
There’s a bluegrass track, a Latin track, multiple progressive rock suites, and a number called Parn Kournt vs. Card Farm, which is…shall we say… different.
If you’ve seen Mungion’s live show, you might have found out that the band has a soft spot for 90s alternative rock, playing songs like “The Bad Touch” or “Closing Time” at their shows. Some of the more popularly accessible ideas on the album seem to harken back to that era, when the members of the band (not to mention the author of this review) were young children. The song Windows will take anyone born before 1995 to that place.
But 90s alt rock comprises a mere sliver of what this band is capable of.
The album’s third track is the title track and the album’s first proper suite. Titled “Ferris Wheel’s Day Off,” it chronicles and is told from the perspective of a languishing ferris wheel longing to break away and take some time to himself.
So yeah the title is funny and clever and all, but it’s actually supposed to make you think. I’ll letcha do that now…
As “Ferris” fades, we are yanked out of a trance by the drumming of Matt Kellen, which introduces a series of full-band chords followed by the piano stylings of keyboardist Joe Re.
This song is called “Quemaste tu Cabello,” and if the author of this review had to choose a personal favorite song on the album, this would be it. But heaven forbid one would have to make such a decision.
Other highlights include Herbert, Chatterbox, and Sloob Syndrome.
Sloob Syndrome is a prog rock masterpiece that culminates in a mellifluous jam akin to Phish’s Reba. Contemplative and patient, the jam (which closes the album) seems to reflect on the journey the listener had just gone through over the course of experiencing the album.
The ferris wheel is one of the great American symbols of motion without progress, along with the race track and the factory. It is, in some ways, the Eiffel Tower of the Midwest—a symbol of turn-of-the-20th-century Chicago and heavy industry converted into amusement. The Ferris Wheel hasn’t stopped moving since its invention. We think it needs a break. Let this album pick up the slack of amusing you.
You won’t be disappointed.