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.
Didier Lockwood RIP – Word reaches us today of the death of one of France's great jazz musicians, violinist Didier Lockwood. His playing bridged many worlds, from traditional jazz to fusion to progressive rock, and his talent can be heard on recordings by Magma, Clearlight, Pierre Moerlen's Gong, and many more. Lockwood was 62. » Read more
10 Years of Fruits de Mer - The Incomplete Angler – Those of you who are faithful followers of Exposé will know that we have been promoting Fruits de Mer and its side labels and releases from nearly its first year. Now music journalist and author Dave Thompson has written a book chronicling the past ten years as a celebration of this milestone. » Read more
Bill Bruford Ventures into Uncharted Territory – Drum master Bill Bruford, veteran of some of the most creative bands in history (King Crimson, Yes, Genese, etc.), is sharing some of what he's learned about being a drummer and a musician in his new book, Uncharted: Creativity and the Expert Drummer, out on University of Michigan Press. » Read more