Carlos Severe Marcelin
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Carlos Severe Marcelin

Portland, Oregon, United States | INDIE

Portland, Oregon, United States | INDIE
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Sally Tomato's Toy Room
Sally Tomato’s Toy Room: A Rock Opera In Four Acts
Directed by Wesley J. Turner
Music by Sally Tomato And Carlos Severe Marcelin
Severe Enterprises 2010

Rock operas in the tradition of the Who’s Tommy are frequently attempted and translated into album format, and frequently they are watered down versions of a former classic, but few are as ambitious and introspective as Toy Room seems to be here. Few writers of any art ever dare to look so deeply into themselves and thrive enough to emerge as spiritually evolved as the character Sally seems to have done. Friends and colleagues have successfully attempted smaller personal projects to process and to heal, showing only a few friends or writing a song or two, but Toy Room, in the expanded form of a musical is something rarely seen and even more rarely attempted.

But it’s not just epic. Toy Room is revelatory with personal revelations that would have been difficult for anyone to discuss in front of a large audience, not to mention amongst friends. Toy Room turns it all into a cathartic release for the character of Sally Tomato as well as the audience watching from the sidelines.

The opera is divided into four acts and twenty-nine chapters and several musical numbers ranging from Invisible Child to Time to Be Brave. Invisible Child begins by introducing Sally and her Toy Room to rationalize the world around her through “Beyond The Stares”. Here her imagination roams free from the prying and disapproving eyes of grown ups and introduces us to her imaginary friends or additional imagined personalities to compensate for her isolation and loneliness.

Throughout, the narrative is carried forward through the musical numbers and the action, but more than occasionally there is a male narrator. On a rare occasion, even Sally herself enters the voice over to explain a critical point or two. Occasional interruptions would have been welcome, especially by Sally herself if it had been minimal, but that isn’t the case here. The musical numbers are generally enough to ponder some of the themes of safety and escape. Additional action would have been enough to flesh out the storyline. Take this as a wonderful first draft of a refreshingly cathartic rock opera for us the audience as well as the performers on stage.

“Nightmare” is especially cathartic in it’s parody, using country guitar licks, trailer park imagery, and particularly telling icons from what we all recognize as lower income neighborhoods. “Broken Machine” engages in a particularly techno backbeat and background imagery that releases a full onslaught of humorous venom to counter the abuse received from her stage husband. It illustrates the especial healing from laughing at others problems that helps us deal with our own.

Musicals such as Toy Room rarely make it to the stage because they are particularly difficult to produce, emotionally as well as physically. The artists here as well as the production team should be particularly commended for their effort as well as for making the translation particularly entertaining.

Our very own Toy Room or whatever we choose to call it will always be that safe place that we have always had and always go back to. For me, books and then music was and is my security blanket. What’s yours?

The soundtrack and DVD of the performance are available at www.toyroomrockopera.com should you decide to support the artist.
RadioMike
17 March 2011 - Radio Casbah


June 2009 – Winner, Best Music Based Video, Swansea Bay Film Festival
June 2009 – Winner, Best Feature Film Under 75 Minutes, Heart of England Film Festival
May 2009 – Nominated, Best Music Video (Rodeoland), British Film Festival Los Angeles
March 2009 – Winner, Award of Merit (Soundtrack), The Indie Fest
December 2008 - Winner, Award of Excellence (Feature), Accolade Awards

2009 Official Selections for:
New Beijing International Movie Week
International Film Festival Thailand
Urban Suburban Film Festival, Pennsylvania
International Film Festival South Africa
International Film Festival Egypt - Various


Arguably one of the most pleasing indie releases in recent years, Sally Tomato’s Toy Room is an ambitious and diverse experiment. A rock opera in four acts, it follows the life and development of Sally Tomato, drawing on familiar themes of childhood innocence, the difficult transition to adulthood, and the impact on imagination and personality that comes with it. The standout achievement of Toy Room is the manner in which it blends a rather conventional storyline with a rich and impressive mélange of songs, making for a unique listening experience.

From the opening track, one gets a sense of the band’s creative touch. The bright, crisp tone of guitarist Carlos Severe Marcelin’s introductory notes kicks off the involving “Overture,” a cosmic affair. Sally’s spoken-word narrative and gentle choruses of “In the dark there is only one light / No one can touch me here” draped in recurring vocal effects round out an opening number that instantly draws you in.

The album progresses such a manner that it is near-impossible to place the songs in a generalized category. “Beyond the Stares,” Sally’s account of her childhood sanctuary in the Toy Room, is a gentle, melodic piece, almost like a lullaby. “Bad Seed” kicks off with a wonderfully smooth guitar lick and quickly settles into a catchy groove, nicely carried by some solid drumming courtesy of Eric Flint. The production of this record is quite striking by this point; each instrument packs a great deal of punch, with everything from overdubs to background effects crystal clear in the mix. The last song covering Sally’s childhood years, “No Crying Here,” expands on the vibe of the previous track quite nicely, with the jazzy character of Marcelin’s guitar and Sally’s vocals making a great pairing.

Act 2 is a markedly different affair, musically and thematically, as Sally’a life hits a downward spiral after marrying a white trash husband and being relegated to a life of trailer park living. It’s all a bit deadpan as Sally details her “personal nightmare.” Though lacking the spaciness and variety of Act 1, tracks like “Broken Machine” and “Air” are quite nice. The contrast between Sally’s pouty lyrical reflections on her situation and the upbeat music is well done.

Our main protagonist’s escape from the situation in Act 3 makes for some of the most entertaining tracks on the CD. Things take a much more rockin’ style in “Saturday Night,” while “Night Scene” has the catchiness of Steve Miller’s “Abracadabra” with its oddly infectious digital loops and Sally’s galloping, quirky vocals. Act 4, meanwhile, is a dreamweaving collection of songs highlighted by the nine-minutes long “Crowded,” which effectively captures the sense of imagination and unreality associated with childhood.

Save for a spoken narrative that occasionally interrupts the flow of the songs, this is an exceptionally well-crafted album. With its rich array of sounds, sparkling production, and fresh take on old themes, Toy Room is an immensely satisfying work.

Rating: A- - the Daily Vault


Carlos Severe Marcelin receives an Honarable Mention for the song "Talbot the Winged Warrior" at the 14th Annual Billboard World Music Awards - Billboard Magazine


If you combine the best elements of Hootie & the Blowfish and matchbox 20, you'd get something mighty close to Silkenseed-: A Portland OR outfit that glides through its fine self-made disc "Hurry Home" with equal parts strumming acoustic-soul and aggressive modern rock. At the core of the band is Hamilton Sims, the primary singer/tunesmith, who possesses a worldly baritone that belies his youth. He's particularly strong on the hit-worthy "Dead Letter" waxing poetic in the best troubadour tradition. Elsewhere, tunes like 'Benchwarming' and 'The Well-Adjusted Horse" have the kind of instant, concise pop hooks and tight guitar/rhythm interplay that mainstream rock has begun to embrace. Having honed its live chops for several years now, Silkenseed-whose lineup includes Edwin Paroissien (guitar), Carlos Marcelin (guitar), Monica Arce (flute), Randy Montgomery (bass) and Eric Flint (drums) - has an earthy free-form vibe that cult followings are made of. - Billboard Magazine


THE ROCKET The new album from Silkenseed is called Hurry Home and it's as broken in and comfortable as its name implies, like an easy chair in front of the fire. The Seed don't stress or strain; their music pours out of the woofers with a relaxecd sincerity. On songs like "Benchwarming" and "The Well-Adjusted Horse," the band demonstrates a grown-up hippy ease with melody and dynamics that should play well with alt-rockers fed up with faceless grunge clones.(JC)

WILLAMETTE WEEK Silkenseed and Marcy Playgound may spark chicken and egg debates amongst future KNRK listeners. At once airy and intense, this Portland six-piece is a more intricate and subtle alternative to the already popular, aforementioned band. Come see them perform songs off their recent release Hurry Home (Rainforest) before they, too start drawing the big crowds.(JF)

THE OREGONIAN Too bad not all prog rock can be as inviting as that of these New Orleans-to-Portland translplants. Arty closet folkies with a hippie jam-band aesthetic, Silkenseed has a fluid, freewheeling mjusic that makes for fascinating listening. The formula isn't without its faults, but this sextet hits many more targets that it misses, as reflected on its remarkable sophomore release "Hurry Home."(ME)
- Various


Silkenseed keeps it simple on its second CD, and its new; smart sound simply soars During that quiet lull between happy hour and the noisy bustle that signals the start of the evening proper, Silkenseed vocalist Hamilton Sims sums up his musical philosophy over a margarita in a Northwest Portland jazz club. "It's very American to put yourself into a box and say, "This is who I am and this is what I do and that's all." "I don't buy it. There are a lot of colors to choose from. It doesn't matter if you use them or not, you owe it to yourself as a musician to know that they exist." Guitarist Carlos Marcelin agrees: "As a band, our catch phrase for '98 is 'cosmopolitan.' We don't want to be limited by anything." That eclectic declaration is the guiding premise behind Silkenseed's second CD, "Hurry Home", out now on Portland's Rainforest Records. A deft collection of modern rock songs, "Hurry home" has an intimate sense of discovery and a thoughtful delivery that was less prominent on the group's debut album, last year's self-released "Spawn." Where "Spawn" suffered from an overload of blustery and bombastic anthems, with the band reaching deep to fill up every possible square inch of sonic space, "Hurry Home" is a more compact and focused record. The drums and percussion are crisply centered in the mix, and the guitars and amps have been turned down from the ever-popular Spinal Tap volume of "11" to more discernible levels. Most noticeably, Monica Arce's flute work has been transformed from the sharp tones that earned Silkenseed a lot of easy Jethro Tull references into a more versatile range of sounds. Her piping is treated almost like a keyboard on the CD, a great leap forward for the group. Originally known as "Geraldine Fischer" in their hometown of New Orleans- the name change was prompted by the existence of the West Coast act the Geraldine Fibbers- the members of Silkenseed were students at New Orleans' Tulane University, playing together in various configurations since 1990. "Musically, New Orleans is an intense town," Sims says. "But unless you're in a big name funk band, or you're a blues player, there aren't a lot of venues to play. It's not a big rock scene," So after graduation, the band packed up and headed west, arriving in Portland at the end of the summer of '94. Says guitarist Edwin Paroissien: "We wanted to go from the urban swamp to the greener outdoors." Picking up bass player Randy Montgomery in town, Silkenseed continued to hone its distinctive sound, knotty song structures and all. "Hurry Home" is the end product of that journey and a fair illustration of the group's drive to find that certain balance of musical colors, of "Frank Zappa to Frank Sinatra to Franz Schubert," as Marcelin puts it. As with their promising-if-slightly-awkward first album, the new CD follows similar songwriting patterns and themes about the fearless dissection of human nature. Songs begin pensively, getting their footing before building in complexity. The opening track, "Dead Letter," sets up a gentle mood couterpointed by the big guitar hooks of "Benchwarming." "Typhoid Mary" is an exercise in adult contemporary pop, and "Stress for Breakfast" is a rainy-day reflection with arty prog-rock touches. "Virlie Graves" is a rousing, metal-tinged raveup, with Sims practicing his best stadium-sized fireworks. The final number, "Windowsong", is the calm after the storm, a lilting flute and acoustic guitar epilogue. Scattered throughout "Hurry Home" are flourishes of brightness alternating with sparse open spaces, proof that the band has learned how to pare songs down to essentials without losing any of the musical shades available to them. As Paroissien puts it, "The songwriting has gotten more direct. Every musician figures out sooner or later: Simplicity is golden" Curt Schulz - The Oregonian


Soup— Sally Tomato, Self-Produced, Many people know of Carlos Marcelin’s brilliant work as guitarist for the band Silkenseed. His brilliance is no less effulgent here. However, let it be said right now that Carlos hit a grand slam home run the day he ran into Sally Tomato. Sally Tomato. Is she the product of Artificial Intelligence? Is she a figment of some deranged scientist’s libidinously twisted mentation? Is she the 21st century uberfrau? Is she all of the above? Indeed she is, and more. Sally Tomato is all of the above and more. Much, much more.


Sally Tomato was born a million years ago on the Jovian moon Io. Her mother was Dorothy Parker. Her father: Lenny Bruce. Her brother is Wild Man Fischer. Her sister is Maggie Roche. Her uncle is Pee Wee Herman. Her aunt is Laurie Anderson. She is the only child of an only child. She created herself in the breakroom of a Goodyear tire factory in Akron, Ohio. She cannot see the color orange. She picks up the signals of high-powered Mexican radio station in the fillings of her teeth. She once helped a chimpanzee to memorize the first three acts of Hamlet. Sally Tomato once ate a jar of Miracle Gro, and it was a miracle! She grew. She once ate dirt and shat a brick. Sally Tomato has three hearts. Sally Tomato once made an asshole disappear. It reappeared in Bogota, Columbia, working for a provisional military junta: which was overthrown the following year. Sally Tomato hears all your thoughts. She writes them down on small pieces of rice paper and sets them afloat upon the Willamette River. Sally Tomato sleeps with one eye open. Sally Tomato is the most original poet/singer/songwriter to hit town since Earl Benson retired. She is hip. She is raunchy. She is totally on the money. She wants to be your Nutty Buddy. That could be a problem. Sally Tomato has a way with words. She is one of a kind. They threw away the mold. Sally Tomato is a fine addition to soups and salads. Ask for Sally Tomato aspic.


Put Sally Tomato on your Christmas gift list. Ask Santa for Sally Tomato. She is not unbreakable. She is not returnable. There are no refunds or exchanges. Do not remove tag. Buy Sally Tomato. Be Sally Tomato. Sally Tomato. She is one of a kind.


And Carlos Marcelin is a truly brilliant guitarist. - Two Louies


Sally Tomato is more complex than introspective, acoustic folk-rock. This is a band capable of smart lyrical left turns and a full sound that swings from rock to folk to salsa barrages. (RS) [Alternative] Sally Tomato plays at Lolas at 10:00, Saturday Sept. 11

- Willammette Week


To be honest, Sally Tomato is quite possibly off her rocker. With multi-instrumentalist Carlos Marcelin tossing off Mark Ribot like guitar flourishes, Sally appears to be half Kate Pierson, and half the character that Glenn Close played in Fatal Attraction. Their newest release "Concentration" is a kitsch filled romp with songs about dolls, aliens, and the Feline Research Institute. It's a group well worth seeing, but you might want to hide the rabbits.

- Pabst Blue Ribbon


Discography

SOLO
T,E.D. (2012)
Woman with Spider (2008)
The Instrument Cried Play Me (2007)

SALLY TOMATO
One Night (2011)
Toy Room (2008)
Concentration (2006)
Soup (2002)

FILM SOUNDTRACKS
DarkCavesLightHouses (2011, Sally Tomato)
Ipon! (2011, Los Moustachios)
Toy Room (2010, Sally Tomato)
My Dirty Left Foot (2009, Sally Tomato)
Veer (2009, Heliorana)
ExplOregon (2008, Sally Tomato)
UFO Am I (2007, Sally Tomato)

Photos

Bio

As a connoisseur of all music styles through the ages, his fingers channel cultures and millennium through his guitar, to you. Was that Greek, Dylan, Debussy, Indian, Led Zeppelin you hear? His heritage is Cuban, but you’re sure you heard some flamenco in there somewhere… Isn’t that from Spain?

Just when you’re settling into a comfortable bed of musical fabric woven from lush aural textures, CSM will sneak in some industrial-sounding percussion or a surprise ending to throw you off balance. Using occasional dissonance and dramatic harmonies alternating with the playful, CSM leaves an indelible expression.

Carlos has many songs and many styles, which spill into different musical incarnations. He has a couple of other projects going on, namely Sally Tomato and Pidgin. Drummer Eric Flint has played music with Carlos for a long, long time and is in both projects. Carlos has a wonderful partner in life, Sally, who takes the songs he writes that need words in them. These are played under the Sally Tomato moniker.

Before the current projects, Carlos was the founding member of Silkenseed. Spawned in New Orleans circa 1990, and migrated to Portland, Oregon in 1994, they had a fair amount of regional success on the west coast in the late 1990s on indie label Rainforest Records. The band eventually dissolved, but never you mind ~ Carlos seems much more at home in his basement playing music straight from his imagination to yours. Perhaps a dingy basement is significant to Carlos’ musical creativity. A certain smelly, magical place on Robert Street in New Orleans provided the backdrop for Silkenseed’s early confluence and a newer, presumably drier but still dingy one in Portland, Oregon is the current space for his musical musings. Something about this subterranean ambience seems to inspire him.

Before Silkenseed, Carlos attended the music composition program at Tulane University in New Orleans. Not much is known about this period except that high grades existed in stark juxtaposition to a conspicuous absence of foot apparel.

He currently performs in the local and regional circuit as well as the occasional festival.

Enjoy the music of CSM, and perhaps that journey can have an impact on your own.