Circuline — Return
((Not on label) no#, 2015, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2016-03-02
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.
You Can Be Part of an Ambient Electronic Project – The Gesture of History is a new electronic project put together by Sam Rosenthal of Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Steve Roach, and violist Sam Shadow. The music started as an instrumental track Rosenthal was working on for a Black Tape album, but took on a life of its own and demanded further enhancements. The majority of the funds raised will go to manufacturing costs for LP and CD editions, as well as other items as detailed on the Kickstarter page. » Read more
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more
Chicago-Based Surabhi Ensemble Tours the World in January – Surabhi Ensemble was formed more than a decade ago in Chicago with the aim of bringing together musicians from varying traditions to make music. Saraswathi Ranganathan, who plays veena, assembled a cast that includes Arabic oud, Spanish guitar, and percussion from Africa and India. This month, the group will be sharing their sounds with concert-goers in Southeast Asia, Europe, and Africa. » Read more
Seaprog Festival Seeks Donations – Seaprog is a small festival in Seattle that highlights creative music from many genres with artists from around the world. It's also a US non-profit organization. They're seeking donations to help keep the ball rolling. Starting in 2013, the organization has been growing, and has featured such artists as Free Salamander Exhibit, Jack o' the Clock, Nik Turner, Cabezas de Cera, Miriodor, Thinking Plague, and many more. » Read more