Thursday, April 30, 2015

Circle "Pharaoh Overlord"

Country: Finland
LabelEktro Records
FormatCD, vinyl
Release date:April 30, 2015 (CD),  June 12, 2015 (vinyl)
  1. Koitto - 11:33
  2. Kavelen Luiden Paalla - 10:50
  3. Aavasaksa - 06:47
  4. Aldebaran - 06:37
  5. Madonna of Viggiano - 07:06
Julius Jääskeläinen – guitar
Pekka Jääskeläinen – guitar
Jussi Lehtisalo – bass, vocals
Mika Rättö – keyboards, vocals
Tomi Leppänen – drums
Janne Westerlund – guitar, vocals
Juho Viljanen – horns

Circle, and their not-all-that-different-really side-project band Pharaoh Overlord have now simultaneously released albums with the titles "Circle" and "Pharaoh Overlord", no, not self-titled albums, the Circle one is called Pharaoh Overlord and the Pharaoh Overlord one is called Circle. And they have very similar art/graphics. Yep. That's what they do for laffs up in Finland, although knowing Jussi, he probably has some very serious, meaningful reason behind this scheme, but the explanation would be impossible to understand. It makes a circle or something. Regardless, what we've got here are TWO NEW Circle and/or Pharaoh Overlord albums, however you slice it, and that's a good thing! Of course, they just showed up yesterday, the day before our list, but we already have spun these a bunch of times and know we will spin them lots more, so sure let's make 'em both Records Of The Week!
The Circle album is quite, well, it's pretty much redundant and superfluous to say in a review of a Circle album that the music is "mesmeric" but goshdarnit, this is indeed mesmerizing. They don't try to sound especially like Pharaoh Overlord, by the way, whatever that would entail, not of course that they don't, either. Instead, the quick takeaway here would be that this is "the Circle album with horns". (Oh, wait, there's a PO album called Horn, maybe that's the weird connection, hmmm??) Anyway, the horns are the big X-factor here, tooting along syncopatedly and cyclically Circle-like. A little jazzy, certainly proggy, those horns, along with the wordless vocal choirs, make us think of Magma and other '70s large-ensemble prog symphonics. We're also put in mind of some suspenseful '60s/'70s film soundtracks, like David Shire's The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three just a bit. It gets intense, with stabs of distorted guitar chords to further intensify the mood. Meanwhile, the vocals, which include some impressive caveman freakout screams, are also crucial, and hark back to the early days of Circle, when they did the monk-chanting thing in their own made up language (a la Magma as well) on albums like Zopalki.
Ultimately, it's really gorgeous and, again, super mesmeric, these tracks all of course built around endless repetitive grooves, simple (deceptively so, we're sure) and effective in the usual Circle style. And the only reason one track ever ends, it seems, is that another one needs to begin. And we wouldn't have it any other way. This Circle consists of circles within circles to spin the mind around. Wow, nice. Recommended, as is the other one by the other band. (https://www.aquariusrecords.org)

Kavelen luiden paalla

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