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Circa:

HQ

Review by Gary Hill

With both Tony Kaye and Billy Sherwood onboard, comparisons to Yes are obvious. They are also often warranted. In fact, in some ways Circa: sound more like Yes than modern Yes does. That said, they don’t feel the need to restrict their sound to that band. This is a progressive rock album that’s both accessible and complex. That’s hard to pull off. It’s modern progressive rock with its feet well set in classic prog.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2011  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
If It's Not Too Late

The opening section feels like this could move out into either Hawkwind-like space rock or heavy metal. Then a short segue seems a bit like Styx. From there, though, the track powers out into some very Yes-like jamming. A lot of the bass work on this calls to mind Tormato and Drama. It’s really an epic level cut that, with different vocals, could pass for Yes. Of course, in a lot of ways Circa: these days is as Yes-sounding as the real deal. The presence of Billy Sherwood leads many to think that Circa: will sound like the Open Your Eyes era of Yes, but this really is far more complex and “prog” than that album. It feels Yes-like, but not really a clone of Yes.

Haun Solo
Here’s a short and surprisingly complex and potent guitar solo.
False Start
Comparisons to Yes’ Open Your Eyes are more appropriate here, but in a lot of ways there are also bits that call to mind The Yes Album and Drama. It’s a complex and yet catchy tune. It’s also a killer number with a lot of energy.
Chasing After Ghosts
Those looking to Circa: as a substitute Yes might be surprised by the early sections of this number. It feels more like Peter Gabriel era Genesis than it does Yes. Even when it powers up a bit around the 30 second mark those Genesis elements can still be heard. The real rocking sections are closer to Yes, though. There’s a drop back to ambience later that somehow feels more like very old Yes at first, but then resembles Genesis again. Around the three and a half minute mark it powers out to a segment that seriously calls to mind Drama. All in all, though, this is a pretty complex number with a lot of musical shifts and alterations. It’s one of the more musically diverse pieces to be heard on the set. And, yes, there are parts that feel rather like Open Your Eyes era Yes.
Set To Play
A short cut, this is incredibly energetic and very Yes-like. It’s a real powerhouse instrumental number that’s got a bit of space rock built into it, too. There are definitely Tormato like sections on the piece.
Ever Changing World
Yes, Genesis and other sounds merge on this cool cut. It’s got quite a few changes and alterations, particularly for a song that’s still catchy and last less than five-minutes. There’s even a recurring section that makes me think of Yes’ Big Generator album a bit. There’s also a jam that calls to mind Tormato.
We Can Last
Another long cut, this is a diverse round. It works between harder edged music and mellow sections. There are a number of different musical themes and elements introduced throughout. It sounds probably closest to Yes, but even things like Styx can be heard at times.
Twist of Fate
Fast paced and energized, there’s a lot of Drama era Yes to be heard here. It’s a cool tune that has some mellower sections at times. While there’s a lot of great music here, a lot of times it’s really the vocal arrangement that rules this number. In that regard, and a few others, it also calls to mind the Rabin era of Yes.
All Intertwined
Starting with more of a straight ahead classic rock sound, this cut works out towards more prog-like music as it continues. In a lot of ways it’s among the least Yes-like sounds on show here. Still, there are few sections that call to mind that band. Most specifically there are a few sections that feel like Tormato.
Remember Along the Way
As keyboards open this, I’m reminded of “The Final Countdown” from Europe. That’s only the opening moments, though. The keyboard soloing is taken out towards more classical territory from there before the group  settles into a jam that seems to merge Yes with Deep Purple for a time. They run through a number of changes in an powerful instrumental introduction that runs longer than many pop songs. Then it drops to a balladic motif for the vocals. It’s acoustic guitar driven and poignant. It grows out gradually from there and they take us out on a series of a new changes and progressions that just plain rock. It’s really a very organic progression, but yet it just keeps changing and growing.
 
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