Thursday, January 28, 2010
CIRCLE "TRIUMPH" (Fourth Dimension)
A curiously subdued live outing from Circle, recorded for Brian Turner's radio program last back in 2007. The live arena is where Circle are at their best; it's no accident that most Circle recordings i own are live shows (nor does it seem that strange that this band has a larger live discography than recorded) and the joy of Circle live is that you never know what the hell you're going to get. This is a band capable of almost anything, from all out Judas Priest style metal juggernauting (my favorite) to deep woods weirdo commune forest psych. This show, to me, is closest in spirit to their massive jazz-tinged epic album "Mildjard", as both albums are possessed by a strange gentle approach and an aping of free jazz style chops, while keeping a very distanced stance from the concept of "easy listening". Disc One (yep, it's a double) starts off with "Virsi", a folksy tune incredibly reminiscent of Mikami Kan both structurally and vocally, with Mika's hoarse voice plaintively crying out over choppy start/stop chords and drums. About two minutes in and the vocals drop out while the band transitions into eleven minutes of Cecil Taylor on qualudes style jazz posturing, complete with meandering piano and jittery drum scrapes. This gives way into "Rykmentti", a freezing cold keyboard abyss that sounds like John Carpenter trying convince Optimus Prime that human/robot coupling is a good idea. Seriously sharp and incredibly unforgiving; probably one of Circle's most frightening moments. The absurdly titled "In the Name of Rock-Android" closes things out, with 22 minutes of drift that deliver on neither promise of the title. Again, Circle just catches you up in this stuff, even when nothing much is happening at all, and i'm hard pressed to think of few other bands who make sleepwalking sound like such an artistic profundity. Disc Two opens up with "Skiing", an incredibly dark and mesmerizing track that reminded me very much of Neurosis's more searching moments, with Mika sounding especially Von Till-ish. The track presents a truly serene menace, and yeah, there's more of that weird opposites-at-work-together thing that Circle does so well. "Dungeon" is the obvious highlight of the set, probably the most truly gorgeous song i've heard from Circle, thirteen minutes of glorious piano flurry and twinkling repetition that recalls both the Necks and the Philip Glass shit that i was listening to with Ben today equally. Completely entrancing and hypnotic-two whole discs of just that song and i would not have been disappointed. Somehow knowing that they'd hit a high, Circle closes out the album with "Murheenkryyn", the only track that delivers the epic repeto-rock that Circle are known for. Mika is in completely awesome fashion here, his pipes sounding totally raw and shredded as he screams his lungs out over a dirty guitar fueled workout replete with doublestops and guitar-hero posturing, even if the actual ability isn't there. Sometimes even Circle can't keep up with themselves, i guess. Why Circle called this one "Triumph" is beyond me. It's more of a slow burn victory, wherein the majesty of the music flows over you given time, like a lazy float down an empty river canyon in the dead of night, with that big starry sky spread over you, making you feel like you're leaving the earth and beginning a voyage to somewhere much further away. Circle will carry you; they'll fly you; they'll get you there if you trust them. Do you?