Circa — Circa: 2007
(Purple Pyramid CLP 0357-2, 2007/2013, CD)
by Paul Hightower, Published 2009-07-01The continuing saga of Billy Sherwood finds him following up his efforts on Yes albums like Open Your Eyes and his collaboration with Chris Squire (Conspiracy) with an album of songs that sounds a lot like both. The Yes connection is solidified by the presence of Alan White on drums and Tony Kaye on keyboards, plus longtime associate Jimmy Haun proves himself the best Steve Howe imitator going today. To top it off, both Sherwood’s bass work and singing echo Squire’s characteristic sound. Those familiar with Sherwood’s work in and out of Yes will instantly recognize his trademark compositional style that blends complex rock riffs and intricate arrangements with soaring melodies and rich harmonic textures. It’s an approach that can be extremely powerful, as demonstrated by tracks “Trust in Something” and the epic “Brotherhood of Man.” The wall of sound backs off a bit on “Look Inside” with Tony Kaye offering up some nice organ work, though he’s largely transparent otherwise. However, as often as I was mesmerized by the music I also found my attention drifting away and too often the arrangements lacked a discernible through-line or sense of thematic backbone. Rockers like “Cut the Ties” solve this by using a bass riff to propel the song along, though songs like “Life Going By” seem little more than exercises in multi-track vocal mixing. Circa has great potential, but I just wish Billy Sherwood would step out of Yes and Chris Squire’s shadow. So far that has yet to happen.
Glenn Branca RIP – Experimental guitarist and composer Glenn Branca has died at the age of 69. He was known for compositions featuring large ensembles of guitars, and for the use of feedback. He founded his band Theoretical Girls in the mid-70s as an art-punk answer to what he saw as the increasing commercialization of punk music. His compositions were highly influential, with such figures as David Bowie, Thurston Moore, and John Lurie among his fans. » Read more
OBEY Convention XI Set for May 24-28 in Halifax – As the 2018 festival season rapidly approaches, we’d like you to be aware of a real treasure of diverse and creative music that’s going to take place in Halifax, Nova Scotia, next month. The OBEY Convention is on its 11th outing, and features a wide range of artists from around the world. From avant-industrial noise to experimental takes on Classical Chinese music, from chamber jazz to doom metal, from ambient soundscapes to Canadian First Nations drumming, you’d be hard pressed to find a festival with more variety in sound anywhere in the world. » Read more
Close to the Rain Festival in Bergen Announces Lineup – Now in its second year, the Close to the Rain Festival of progressive music is scheduled to take place in Bergen, Norway, on June 7 - 9. They've got an amazing slate of bands lined up, including such powerhouses as Anekdoten, Major Parkinson, Arabs in Aspic, Tusmørke, and many more. » Read more
Seaprog 2018 Artist Announcements Raise Festival's Profile – Seattle's Seaprog festival has been going since 2013, and the 2018 edition features a slate of artists that's sure to bring more attention to the event. Cheer-Accident, Bubblemath, and Free Salamander Exhibit are in the first round announcement of performers. In keeping with their tradition of focusing on regional artists, they will also present a number of artists from Washington and Oregon. [Edit: Just added: Inner Ear Brigade] » Read more