Demo2Dero: Children's Masterpiece Theatre

April 13, 2008


At first blush, the name Children's Masterpiece Theatre may bring to mind a BBC TV special, or perhaps another aging rocker trying to revitalize his career with children's music. But there's nothing kiddy about the suburban Chicago group - the vibe is much more tortured teen, as in a combination of vintage '90s symphonic Smashing Pumpkins with Tool or Nine Inch Nails electro-industrial thrash.

Initially a one-man studio project launched by vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Timothy O'Connell, who was on his way to earning an M.A. in religion and medieval literature at Yale at the time, CMT had evolved over the course of several demos and D.I.Y. releases on O'Connell's Tyranny Belle Records to become a guitar, bass, drums and synth quartet by the time of last year's ambitious self-titled album.

The group resorts to generic alt-rock at times, as on "Black Neon," currently streaming from its Web site ( But on other tunes, including "Lorelei" from its album or "Little Children Scream," a tribute to/rewrite of King Crimson's "21st Century Schizoid Man," you can hear the promise of a band struggling to find a unique path forward from its obvious influences.