Exposé Online banner

Circles — Circles
(Guerssen Mental Experience MENT001, 1983/2016, CD/LP)

Circles — More Circles
(Guerssen Mental Experience MENT002, 1984/2016, CD/LP)

by Henry Schneider, Published 2016-06-03

Circles Cover artMore Circles Cover art

Circles was the obscure German electronic trio of Dierk Litert (synths, sequencers, drums, bass, guitar, voice, saxophone, and flute), Mike Bormann (guitars, bass, and synths), and Busch Buchweitz (drums, percussion, and trumpet). They were an inventive multi-instrumental group who released three albums in the mid to late 80s and then went on to other things. Often aided by guests, Circles continued to record music in the spirit of Cluster, Harmonia, Liliental, etc. All three of their albums were privately released on their tiny Einhorn label and therefore very rare. Today Guerssen on their imprint label Mental Experience have legitimately reissued first two albums on both vinyl and CD.

The first salbum, Circles, features nine instrumentals where they experiment with dark chords, drones, slow rhythms, voices, old 78 rpm records, dissonant chords, electronics, and Krautrock. This album is quite a mixed bag of tunes. The Krautrock tunes (“Rockcola,” “10° unter Null,” “Tropflut,” “Reibend,” and the epic “Woistich-Umgedreht”) are in the Harmonia / Cluster vein, while the other tracks can be abstract electronic soundscapes with dissonant chords. In addition, “Chant” made me think of Der Plan and Die Todliche Doris. For me, the outstanding tracks are “Rockcola” with its motorik beat and two-chord sequences, and “Woistich Umgedreht” with its repeating sequences, abstract electronics, and eerie cyclic themes.

More Circles continues with an additional 10 tracks that are similar in approach, but completely different. There are still the Harmonia, Cluster, and Neu! influences, as well as more extreme sonic experiments. The disc opens with the short track “Minimal Instant” with its repeated Harmonia style four-note sequence and leads into the mammoth “Several Steps Leading through Different Rooms - Escapades.” Over the course of 13 minutes, Circles goes from electronics and street noises with a slow two-note sequence to faster rhythmic tubular Michael Rother guitar that becomes Frippian, merging into TV, running water, and train sounds followed by more guitar and abstract sounds, clock chimes, and closes by becoming very surreal. Each of these shifts must correspond to a different room. Then we have the short tune “Tripletwin” that reminds me of Bill Nelson’s early solo work, perhaps “Mr. Magnetism Himself.” Then they take off into the cosmos with “Paris Cut,” which sounds similar to Louis and Bebe Barron’s Forbidden Planet soundtrack. “Mental Dart” is even more abstract and experimental with whispers, droning voices, and analog synths. “Trio Atonale” is another experimental piece with random trumpet notes and short runs. “Tranquilo Gonzales” is more ambient, but with electronic snippets, whispers, and slow chords. “Sequences” is back to Forbidden Planet territory. When I read the title “Consequences” I thought of Conrad Schnitzler, but the music bears no resemblance. Instead there is an eerie cosmic / sci-fi / horror feel to this piece. And the disc closes with the excellent Harmonia-influenced “Spiral Dance.”

All in all, two obscure gems from the 80s are now available to a greater audience, especially those who enjoy approachable experimental soundscapes, augmented by some superb Krautrock.


Filed under: Reissues, 2016 releases, 1983 recordings, 1984 recordings

Related artist(s): Circles

Latest news

2020-01-21
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more

2020-01-15
Carlos Alvarado RIP – Carlos Alvarado, pioneering composer, multi-instrumentalist and pioneer of progressive rock and electronic experimental music in Mexico, passed away January 14th, 2020 at age 68 after a two year battle with cancer.  » Read more

2020-01-12
Wolfgang Dauner RIP – Pianist Wolfgang Dauner, one of the pioneers of both European free jazz and jazz rock, has died at the age of 84. With his own groups and with the United Jazz+Rock Ensemble, his playing and compositions were a prominent presence in European jazz from the mid-60s until just recently. » Read more

2020-01-12
Michael Allison RIP – Michael Allison, who since 1997 has been recording as Darshan Ambient, passed away on January 9th after a long and brave battle with cancer. He has been at at the forefront of the new ambient/electronic music scene, with over eighteen releases to his credit. » Read more

2020-01-10
Neil Peart RIP – One of rock music's defining drummers has died at the age of 67. Neil Peart's work with Rush provided one of the templates for percussion in rock, and he certainly ranks in the top ten most influential drummers of the 20th Century. Peart retired from playing in 2015 due to health issues, and succumbed to brain cancer on January 7, 2020. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Red Jasper - The Winter's Tale – Hard on the heels of their fourth album A Midsummer Night's Dream, this latest offering from England's Red Jasper appears to be, conceptually at least, a companion piece to that album. The basic style...  (1994) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues