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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Circuline

Counter Point

Review by Gary Hill

This is quite a cool album. It's very much a symphonic prog album in a lot of ways. Still, there are other things like hints of metal and space rock built into it. I think the whole two lead singers (one male and one female) concept works extremely well. There are a number of guest musicians here including members of Lo-Fi resistance, Enchant, Happy The Man, Glass Hammer and Fright Pig. I like this album a lot.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2016  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
New Day

The opening section of this is trippy, spacey and rather ambient but creepy. It powers out from there, the drums driving it at first. There are bit of radio traffic, sounding like NASA. Since Neil Armstrong's famous words are heard in this later, it's a safe bet that it's an accurate assessment. Those are the only "vocals" on this. This thing gets noisy and rather crazed as it continues. Around the half-way mark a killer bass line takes it in a new direction. The cut begins to get more "song" like in terms of the construction and jamming. That bass continues to drive it as other elements create the icing on the musical cake.

Who I Am
There is a bit of a metal edge on this killer rocker. It's much more of a mainstream piece than the opener was. After this extended opening movement, it drops back to a mellower section. Then the vocals enter and the song moves forward from there. They make great use of dual male and female lead singers. The voices are similar enough to really make it work exceptionally well. Mid-track it drops to a piano based mellower movement and gradually moves outward from there. As this works back out to more rocking stuff, it has almost an epic metal sound to it. The powerhouse jam at the end is pure prog, though.
Forbidden Planet
Keyboards start this and the mellow tones build as this continues forward. This drops down to a rather balladic movement. Some powerful vocals come over the top as it evolves. Melodic prog with hints of anthemic metal takes over as the piece continues to grow. This is really an exceptional potent and dramatic piece of music. There is an awesome jam at the end that combines symphonic prog with a driving percussion element and some almost metal sounds.
Hollow
At almost eleven minutes in length, this is the epic of the album. It starts with piano and works out very gradually from there. After a time this works to an instrumental section that's a powerhouse hard rocking prog jam. It's sort of part Dream Theater and part Yes with some ELP thrown in for good measure. The keyboards take over around the half way mark of the piece. That section is very Emerson-like. It grows back out with a return to the previous instrumental mix. Then piano takes it unaccompanied for a short time. They power back out into the song proper with the vocals jumping right back in at the end of that. It works along that road for a time, but then drops way down for an atmospheric section. As this instrumental movement builds out there is a rather playful section for a time. Then some screaming guitar takes over as it keeps changing and growing. The instrumental section takes it to the end.
Erosion
Mellow spacey sounds, like atmospheric soundtrack music are the concept here. There are some non-lyrical vocals that might be samples. Beyond that, this is instrumental. It doesn't grow much, but rather serves as a trippy kind of space music respite. That said, it does get noisy and a bit industrial as it approaches the end. A crescendo takes it, though, and it fades out from there.
Nautilus
I absolutely love the bass sound (it might not be an actual bass guitar, though) that starts this cut. That holds it for a short time, and then acoustic guitar is added to the mix. Other instruments work in as it builds. The vocals join after a time and this works forward as a pretty mainstream rock song. Then we get a quick hint of heavy metal before keyboards take over for a bit. We're brought back into the song proper from there. As the piece keeps moving forward some killer keyboard soloing is heard over the top. It continues to evolve and grow with a movement that feels part fusion and part symphonic prog. It keeps growing beyond that with more of a powered up song proper taking over for the next vocals. This is really quite a powerhouse.
Stay
The opening on this is unique and quite intriguing. As it builds from there it becomes quite fusion-like. Vocals come over with a melodic, rather mellow arrangement serving as the backdrop. It builds gradually working out to some killer melodic progressive rock as it continues working onward. I love the mellow guitar solo on this thing. This is a bit more constant than some of the other music. It has a great melodic prog basis that holds it quite well. There are some emotionally powerful moments of music.
S.O.A.
This seems connected to the first track of the disc. It's only a little more than minute in length. It's made up of loops of space dialog over the top of atmospheric weirdness. It's strange and would be a little annoying if it were longer. At this length it works, though.
Inception
The mellow opening segment here feels like something from the soundtrack of a horror movie. It eventually works out to a killer melodic prog jam. In the neighborhood of the mid-point the piece drops back to a mellower instrumental movement and gradually grows forward from there. It works back out to the song proper from there, building outward nicely. There is a powerhouse jam at the end.
Summit
A mellow movement with some children's voices starts this. It grows outward from there in a fairly tame melodic prog jam with some fusion in the mix. There are some pretty crazy bits of keyboard at times on this. The piece really builds and climbs as it continues. There are bursts of brilliance that tear out from the tapestry, but in many ways it's a straight-line growth process. I love the guitar soloing later in the piece. It's clean and melodic and really inspired. There is a real powerhouse excursion later. Then it drops way down for a keyboard based jam as it moves forward. It moves forward from that point by building upon the same musical concept. This has some twists and turns, but the instrumental segment eventually takes the track to its close.
 
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