Exposé Online banner

Circuline — Return
((Not on label) no#, 2015, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2016-03-02

Return Cover art

For newcomers to reading Exposé, it’s worth noting that for much of the first ten years of our existence, our reviewers devoted a lot of ink to writing negative things about the genre (or sub-genre) of Neo-Prog, that stream of 80s and 90s rock music that utilized some of the sounds of 70s progressive rock, but simplified it with elements of 80s pop, New Wave, and rock. But even the most snobbish writers would admit that it wasn’t all bad: some bands in the Neo category were actually worth listening to. That was a long time ago, and to a certain extent that attitude has mellowed a bit (or maybe there’s just been turnover in writing staff). And the passage of time also means that musicians can be influenced by both classic prog and Neo at the same time. (After all, musicians are often more open-minded about music than reviewers are.) Circuline is a band with two basic sides. Several of the tracks on Return are song-oriented, with prominent keyboards and relatively straightforward arrangements. These are impeccably performed, with both of the singers (Natalie Brown and Billy Spillane) sounding ultra-professional, completely on pitch and enunciating clearly, reminding me of singers with musical theater experience. Guitar, keyboards, bass, and drums provide solid backing, but many of these songs seem a little on the safe side. One of the highlights of the vocal tracks is what happens halfway through “One Wish”: a heavy, aggressive guitar part interjects between wandering piano notes, then ushers in a long instrumental section with a killer riff and some nice playing all around. It’s a taste of the band’s other side, which involves instrumental work that is sometimes fairly edgy. There are a few short interludes without vocals, often featuring some stellar solos from both guitar (Bill Shannon) and keys (Adnrew Coyler). These workouts culminate with “Fallout Shelter,” which starts out with eerie high-pitched synthesizers and builds slowly to a freaky guitar solo backed by heavy, ominous keyboard chords and drums. The album finishes off with “Silence Revealed,” which bridges both sides of Circuline. This vocal track’s middle section features a ripping violin solo from Joe Deninzon which really drives the band to new heights. A great way to finish of a very promising debut.


Filed under: New releases, 2015 releases

Related artist(s): Stratospheerius (Joe Deninzon), Circuline

Latest news

2017-04-16
ProgDay 2017 Announces First Bands – Flor de Loto, Sonar, and Infinien are the first three performers to be announced for the 2017 edition of the long-running ProgDay Festival. The 23rd ProgDay takes place Saturday and Sunday, September 2nd and 3rd, at Storybook Farm in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. » Read more

2017-04-16
Allan Holdsworth RIP – Surely in the list of artists who have contributed to the sound of modern music, there is a special spot for guitarist Allan Holdsworth. His name is known to virtually every student of the instrument in jazz and rock, and his style has been so widely emulated that it's hardly worth mentioning anymore — we can just assume that every guitarist has Holdsworth as an influence. » Read more

2017-02-20
Larry Coryell RIP – One of the greats of jazz guitar has left us at the age of 73. Larry Coryell was one of the founding figures of jazz fusion, but produced a significant body of work the bridged many styles. His group Eleventh House provided a unique take on the combination of jazz and rock that was distinct from contemporaries such as Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever, and Weather Report. » Read more

2017-01-31
John Wetton RIP – After a long battle with colon cancer, singer and bassist John Wetton has died at the age of 67. As an integral member of such bands as King Crimson, UK, and Asia, his was one of the distinctive voices in progressive rock, lending a human touch to often difficult music. » Read more

2017-01-30
Seaprog Announces First Artists for 2017 – The organizers of the Seaprog Festival in Seattle have announced the first set of confirmed performers for the 2017 festival. The best known names are Jack o' the Clock and Zero Times Everything, but a host of other bands are featured, mostly from the Northwest. The festival will take place June 2-4, 2017. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Hualun - Silver Daydream – Maybe it's actually easy to make post-rock music. After all, there seem to be bands springing up all around the world playing it. Hua Lun are part of the new generation of Chinese bands following in...  (2010) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues