Exposé Online banner

Art Rock Circus — Variations on a Dream
(Tributary no#, 2013, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2014-01-28

Variations on a Dream Cover artThe ever-shifting and meandering constructs that alternate between keyboards and guitars, incorporating flute and mallet percussion patches, supported by a solid rhythm section on the first two cuts “Planet X” and “Variation 7” surely represent a new page for this California based outfit. One after another, the ten instrumental cuts here will hold the listener’s attention for the duration, informed by much of the best classic progressive rock, but without ever sounding the least bit derivative. While previous Art Rock Circus efforts like Heaven’s Café and Tell a Vision seemed to be more ambitious theatrical projects of guitarist and leader Bill Miner, with other musicians helping out as needed, Variations on a Dream comes off as more of a band effort with Miner, keyboardist Milo Keysington, and drummer Nolan Stolz all contributing to the compositions and arrangements in a major way, along with the support of bassists Ken Jacquess and Kelton Manning. Unlike those earlier releases, Variations... is entirely instrumental, and powerful enough on its own as an instrumental work that the vocals and grand concepts of previous releases are not missed. In fact the compositional complexity here never lets up, keeping this challenging from beginning to end; after probably twenty or more listens this writer is still discovering new surprises on each repeat play, with familiarity remaining just out of reach. The only minus here is the overall production, which seems kind of flat, uneven and demo-ish at times. Great music that deserved much better post-production work, but the astute listener should have no problems discovering its brilliance.

Filed under: New releases, 2013 releases

Related artist(s): Art Rock Circus

Latest news

2018-01-05
Ray Thomas RIP – On Thursday, 4 January 2017, the world lost Ray Thomas, founding member of the Moody Blues. Thomas sang and played flute, and was responsible for writing a number of the band's most memorable songs. He was 76. » Read more

2017-12-22
Roswell Rudd RIP – Jazz trombonist Roswell Rudd, one of the distinctive players of his instrument in many strains of music, has died at the age of 82. With a career stretching back to the early 60s and over a hundred recordings featuring his playing, he leaves behind a substantial legacy. He was diagnosed with cancer in 2013. » Read more

2017-11-16
Celebrate 10 Years of Fruits de Mer – As a special celebration for a decade of cool vinyl releases, our friends at Fruits de Mer records have prepared a limited edition reissue of an album by the first band ever to appear on the label: Schizo Fun Addict. The band is known for unusual release strag » Read more

2017-11-02
Mega Dodo Presents New Charity Album – Our friends at Mega Dodo have put together a lovely compilation of their artists performing new arrangements of nursery rhymes, and all the profits from sales of the album will benefit Save the Children. It features a number of artists we've covered. » Read more

2017-10-18
Phil Miller RIP – Sad word reaches us today of the passing of another of the great musicians of the Canterbury Scene — guitarist Phil Miller. His distinctive sound added greatly to Matching Mole, Hatfield and the North, and National Health, and he also contributed to albums by Caravan, Dave Stewart & Barbara Gaskin, and many others. He was 68. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Tony Levin - Pieces of the Sun – Tony Levin’s newest release is a true band effort, the direct result of touring after his previous CD, Waters of Eden (previously reviewed). He remains on the Narada label, though (even more...  (2002) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues