Recorded in 2005, The Dark Carnival is Benjamin Allmon’s debut album. Only fragments of it remain, and those that do reveal a collection of songs that incorporate an enormous sonic array. A multitude of musicians performed on this album; deejays, heavy metal guitarists, saxophonists, female chanteuses (including his future wife), remarkable drummers, and thirty-five studio guests who sang the profane refrain on the title track.
At the centre of this bedlam is Allmon, who plays guitar, bass, piano, keyboards, percussion, as well handling vocal duties. Already an experienced audio engineer, 2005 marked the co-ownership of his first commercial studio, Smoke and Mirrors, which doubled as his home. The Dark Carnival saw him using the studio itself as an instrument, aided by formidable engineer David Aurora.
Upon the album’s release, Allmon faced a dilemma – essentially a solo performer, he could never replicate the complex arrangements of this album live. His solution was somewhat esoteric – to not even try. Instead, he walked out his front door with an acoustic guitar and a sleeping bag, in the tradition of the old bluesmen, and trekked for 1000km and seven weeks from the Gold Coast to Australia’s largest city, Sydney, performing stripped down versions of the songs and living the life of the rambler, which became the basis for his first book, Foot Notes, and his second album, Sound Tracks.