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Caspian - On Circles CD (album) cover

ON CIRCLES

Caspian

 

Post Rock/Math rock

4.00 | 1 ratings

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TCat
Special Collaborator
Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team
4 stars Caspian is a post/math rock band from Massachusettes that came together in 2003 and through the years have released several albums and EPs of their instrumental music. In January of 2020, they released their 5th album "On Cirles" that features some of their unique takes on the genre in the form of 8 tracks ranging from 4 to 8 minutes in length. The core band now features 6 musicians and, on this album, a few guests to help add some dynamic and variety in this album.

Beginning with "Wildblood" you know right away this is far from the formulaic post rock sound as a sax comes in giving some depth to the instrumental music and almost bringing it to a fusion sound with a unique feel. The variation in sound help to set this apart from the typical sound, and a more unpredictable dynamic is used that nevertheless allows the music to reach that climactic ending that you desire. "Flowers of Light" has an underlying riff that feels like the sparkling of the sun shining and actually takes away the usual darkness created by the increasing intensity, and also makes the music take on a whirling sensation, stirring everything together into an almost uplifting sound.

"Nostalgist" begins more dream-like from the arpeggios coming from the guitar and bass, and then a surprise from guest vocalist Kyle Dufrey. The unexpected vocals only add more texture to the overall album, and the music is even quite accessible. The music builds and releases, as expected, but then resolves itself into a smooth and even beat while at the same time building emotional levels in the vocals. Cellist Jo Quail also joins in a few tracks such as "Division Blues" which shows the band moving through different textures, the wall of guitar sound waxing and waning, always there, but never overpowering as they push out a theme using dynamics to keep it from growing stale or overly forced. It takes on a more cinematic feel than it does the usual post-rock feel, the instruments sounding more like an orchestra-style setting than a rock band.

A study in contrasts come out in the next two tracks with "Onsra" creating a nice, dreamy feel, almost sounding like a shoegaze style but with a cool, experimental vibe and a warbling effect in the percussion that appears in the middle of the track. It gives you a feeling of sailing on an open sea. However, the contrast comes with "Collapser" which is almost a complete opposite of the previous track, dark and heavy, shimmering guitars fade in taking us to another realm completely. The feeling of brightness apparent in the previous tracks is completely lost in this one, as it churns along, creating yet another texture in this dynamic collection of tracks. In the middle of this one, a chunky bass churns out angrily pushing the guitars to increase their loudness, but a sudden resolve makes for calm which soon gets pushed again into walls of dark sound and heaviness, yet with an intriguing melody that sticks with you after the track is finished.

"Ishmael" is a wonderful, standout track, which features swaying chords which give way to a violin, cello and strummed guitar. You get an almost "GY!BE" vibe here as it slowly develops, yet there is a level of clarity to the music that is not often heard in this genre. Chiming guitars eventually take the melody as underneath it, a smooth countermelody is contrasting the harsher guitar, however, the music still has that uplifting feel to it, and the drums eventually find their beat leveling everything out nicely. The music builds again some more, and then falls off as we hear layers of guitar and synth sparkling along to the end. The album ends with "Circles on Circles" which provides another surprise of a nice solo acoustic guitar and vocals by regular band member Phillip A Jamieson. The vocals are softly layered to create and soft harmonization and a smooth tonal drone create a nice atmosphere. The track remains mellow and relaxing, even when the smooth rhythm kicks in. Beautiful.

What we end up with here is an excellent album that proves that variety can exist in post rock music without taking the music completely outside of its genre. Dynamics can be spread throughout tracks and not used so predictably as with other post rock bands. This album is wonderfully textured all the way through, and offers a surprising variation of sound and style, while still keeping within the genre. It's all very nice and, with only a few exceptions, well structured and interesting. The music keeps you engaged, and doesn't have to be just used as background music, but has plenty to offer to make you want to listen. 4 stars. Very enjoyable.

TCat | 4/5 |

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