Thank you so much, Michael Breuer, for this FANTASTIC review! We are reprinting it here IN FULL, and if you want to read it on their website, the link is included at the bottom of this post.
I deliberately and deliberately kept this discussion until the end of my current sampling; not only because the album was in my mailbox well before the release date. This experience is one of my biggest surprises of the year, as the band was completely unknown to me. Being a scribe has its advantages.
Circuline are a progressive band, but unlike many relatives, they leave their music a lot of time and space for improvisation and jams, which of course gives me a lot of pleasure as a self-confessed mulehead. Where the Neo Prog live often sounds exactly the same as the studio versions, the charged tension of earthy rock music crackles at this live event from the first second, the moments do not develop according to the schedule, but from the gut. And in the course of the concert we will see that we are dealing with virtuoso instrumentalists – but also two equal voices full of power and dynamism. Theatrically yes, but not through exaggerated behavior, but simply through the captivatingly fascinating gift of Mother Nature. In it Brannon gives a furious testimony of his keyboard skills when Andrew challenges him to the ‘Challenge’ on the electric piano. For the ecstatic end to this great improvisation, Joel Simches changes from bass to heads, no problem and later, in the ‘drum feature’, the entire six-member band is there and together they hit everything that people usually do Invented drums. The joy of playing and total devotion are, in addition to the technical possibilities and the sophisticated compositions, an outstanding feature of Circuline.
By the way, they call their music Modern Cinematic Rock. Well then…
The rich, dramatic-ambience keyboard intro and the pleasing following solos in “Soleil Noir” are misleading, because here I feel very close to the English guys from IQ who really wouldn’t be a bad address. But we won’t get any more neoprogressive sounds. Instead, it becomes quite bulky at times, regardless of the neat chants. Emerson, Lake & Palmer somehow often resonate with them and here and there you can find technically sophisticated gadgets, like those Van Der Graaf Generator have mastered so perfectly. But these moments are rather rare, the songs are carried by the harmonies for all their exuberance. And if Alek Darson sets the tone with his guitar, then things really take off, his edgy, gripping attacks stand for cracking rock music rather than dreamy prog. This complexity is another advantage of the music.
“One Wish” offers the first major appearance for the female lead. Natalie Brown convinces with an almost operatic timbre without any eccentricity, a great voice full of expressiveness. The almost threatening, sparse piano break is itself broken down by wild guitar riffs and rebellious keyboards. The tension amplitude swings higher and higher until one returns to the vowel lines, which are now much warmer and more confident.
“Nautilus” with its mumbling, gurgling bass, which spins over the piano in an almost jazzy way, follows on stylistically from the previous one. Cool hooklines and exciting insertions, all in an unexcited medium tempo, the song has a great groove.
Did I mention that the album was recorded at the first International ProgStock Festival in New Jersey in October 2017? Around this time, Circuline toured with, among others, Glass Hammer , who are a big hit in the States.
“Hollow” is then a real sound monster of a good ten minutes and will please all those who enjoy David Sylvian or Steven Wilson . Andrew is allowed to let off steam with relish in the middle section, challenged by the perfectly laid-up rhythm section, but in the end the fascinating harmonies and chants always prevail. A nice interplay of emotions. The spooky and very beautiful ambiance finale combines a little of the very early Genesis with a floyd rule guitar and thickens the end a real highlight. Great number.
The short acoustic piece “Return” sets a second break in the set after the tense piano battle and at the same time proves that not only the individual voices are used very effectively. Especially the wonderful three-song with Andrew as the third voice hits every note and every mood. Good for those who have such potential.
The next section of the concert does not come up with a dark, threatening sound scenario for nothing, as the song is called “Fallout Shelter”, atomic bunker. The rocky, but relatively short instrumental number clearly lives from the duel of the guitar that creates goosebumps and the sizzling elaborate beat. As an exception, the keyboards only lay a dark carpet of keys in order not to drive the guitar into the parade. Atmospherically a big number and atmospherically a bit with Porcupine Tree .
“Pale Blue Dot” is then a cover title by Sound Of Contact , takes up a much more optimistic style again after the experimental excursion into the realm of darkness and is more like catchy tune.
A long, mystical keyboard solo opens for the forbidden planet and I remember the rousing science fiction film from the seventies with the same title: “Forbidden Planet”. But when the keyboard comes to rest, the song changes into an almost ballad-like harmony with very melodic hook lines. It’s quite romantic here and Natalie’s background chants awaken thoughts of a less forbidden celestial body near us and its dark side. The end to this song is then the final break, because now everyone is drumming for almost two minutes.
“Inception” is another feel-good song, the architecture of which, based on the electric piano and the melodious voices, acts largely in a classic song structure and, in terms of mood, prepares the breeding ground for the longest number in the set. “Summit” is the summit of the concert according to the title and has a touch of fusion in its veins. Otherwise, the music stays with the attributes that have already been determined, the intermezzi are all playful and full of joie de vivre, we have left the gloomy passages like the nuclear bunker behind us. Keys and strings motivate each other to do all sorts of finger acrobatics, while the parties that determine the beat play once more with relish with the rhythm. Circuline play an encore, the beautiful and somewhat anthemic “stereotype” with a wonderfully extravagant guitar solo, where we then sniff a little at the atmosphere of the concert opening.
In the past few days and weeks I was able to present some exciting projects from the colorful world of Prog and already know that a real classic is waiting for me soon, because the gentlemen around Steve Howe have announced big things for the end of October. Here and now I have fallen into Circuline for the first time . The mixture of the supporting piano, wild keyboards, guitar sounds and the great voices has done it to me, the cheerful, free style of the presentation with joy in improvisation is exactly my thing. Sometimes a little bombastic, but without calculation, but always with heart and mind. And with a lot of skill.
The album is not just released on CD, but also on DVD and Blu-ray, which even contains bonus material. In addition, a very nice, large-format catalog with numerous photos of the band was included with the sampling – almost as if they had suspected that they would fall on a grateful breeding ground with me.
When I first read the name of the band, I first thought of a subway line in London. I now know who Circuline are and I am grateful that I was able to make this discovery.
Prog with pleasure in jam, euphony without kitsch and theatrics without fuss. I’ll be there!