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

2018-07-31
Tomasz Stańko RIP – Tomasz Stańko, one of the greats of Eastern European jazz, has died at the age of 76. Stańko's career started in Krzysztof Komeda's quintet, where he contributed trumpet from 1963-1967, when he formed his own group. He worked extensively with Edward Vesala, Don Cherry, Zbigniew Seifert, Chico Freeman, Howard Johnson, Cecil Taylor, and many others. Many of his recordings have been released by ECM, an association that began in the mid-70s. » Read more

2018-07-09
Soft Machine Set to Release New Music – It's been 50 years since The Soft Machine changed the face of music with their first album. Their blend of psychedelic rock and jazz was unique, and while the band went through many changes before disbanding in 1981 — by which time there were no original members remaining — they remained an innovative force with a style all their own. » Read more

2018-07-01
7d Surfaces Happy Rhodes Back Catalog – We've covered singer Happy Rhodes before, both for her solo work and recently with The Security Project, but her 11 albums have been hard to track down. Until now. 7d features high-quality downloads of all her releases, and several of them are also available on CD. » Read more

2018-06-25
Fred Chalenor RIP – We have news of another sad passing in the world of creative music. Bassist Fred Chalenor, whose creativity featured on albums by Tone Dogs, Caveman Shoestore, and many more, died on June 23, 2018 after a long battle with Alzheimer's. Tributes have poured in from the many musicians and fans whose lives he touched. » Read more

2018-06-13
Jon Hiseman RIP – One of the great drummers of the rock era has died. Jon Hiseman was a veteran of such ground-breaking groups as Colosseum (I and II), Tempest, John Mayal's Bleusbreakers, and was a founding member of the innovative large band United Jazz + Rock Ensemble. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

The Black Angels - Directions to See a Ghost – It is always exciting to discover new bands that take interesting elements from the past, combine them with fresh new ideas, and create something entirely new. Cases in point are the neo-psych bands...  (2010) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues