‘The Victim's Ball’ is a conceptual musical project developed by Roberto Massaglia of Melbourne's 'The Tenth Stage'. Already known for his lyrical theatricality and a continued curiousity about gruesome historical events, Massaglia's solo project is a bold and chilling musical vision depicting and exploring history's most sinister and gory side.
While successful grotesque cabaret project 'The Tenth Stage' was on hiatus in late 2008, Roberto took the opportunity to develop a very specific project with an aesthetic far more stripped back and orchestral than the lush synthetic sound of his other band. ‘The Victim's Ball' is a mix of early classical music, dark cabaret and "Phantom of the Opera" like epic scores, featuring a number of rare instruments from church organs to the baroque Hurdy Gurdys. The songs on this album are evocative and timeless; reminiscent of ancient folk song, sea shanties and medieval chants. The only modernising element in ‘The Victim’s Ball’ is the clear and crisp production made possible by digital recording technology.
The story of The Victims Ball is central to the creation of this project - 'Les Bals des Victimes', or 'The Victims’ Balls', were soirees put on by dancing societies after the period known as the 'Reign of Terror' during the French Revolution, a period marked by intense violence and mass executions of those considered to be enemies of the Revolution. Following the death of Maximilien Robespierre, one of the architects of The Terror, 'Les Bals des Victimes' emerged as a trend in youth whose relatives had been sent to the guillotine. Twisted by their experience, they established aristocratic, decadent balls open to themselves alone. These soirees were outlandish events in which the participants wore lavish and 'à la mode' finery as an act of mockery and defiance to the dominant regime. The costumes of those who attended these balls incorporated crepe armbands signifying mourning. Women dressed 'à la toilette du condamne', usually signified by a red ribbon tied around their necks at the point of a guillotine blade’s impact and hair cut, or worn, high up off the neck. Described as scandalous, ‘Les Bals des Victims’ morbid fascination with the horror of the guillotine often shocked the wider society of the day.
All the tracks compiled in this album are based on narratives, tales and nursery rhymes of the macabre past, distorted and re-told by the pen of Massaglia.