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Ghost Circus - Cycles CD (album) cover

CYCLES

Ghost Circus

 

Crossover Prog

3.18 | 7 ratings

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Prog Leviathan
Prog Reviewer
3 stars "Cycles" delivers thoughtful and catchy art-rock that wears its heart on its sleeve, giving us fine performances and a very polished presentation. As a debut of this serendipitus duo it scores high marks for talented songwriting and dedication to a mature rock sound which leans closely into the neo-prog category with its heavy use keyboards and extended tapestries of sound.

Songwriting and structure sticks closely to a sort of psuedo-AOR style, which although is wonderfully melodic, lacks the hooks and enthusiasm to ever make it on the radio (fine by me). Instead, "Cycles" enjects that style with an artistic depth of synthesizers and introspective guitar work. There is a lot of variety in dymanics, with rockin', guitar-led choruses playing over layers and layers of keyboards. The sample song here on PA is a good example of the album's upbeat material (and is probably the standout track on the album), but others, like "Trick of the Light" takes its time to build, using almost 3 minutes of synth to get started before dropping the hammer on driving riffing. The album's end result is a cool vibe possessing en electric kick (almost metal in the instrumental "Send-Return") against a reserved and mature backdrop, even though no new ground is broken in terms of composition.

Brown's vocals are smooth and easy to listen to, but probably the least ambitious part of this album. His tenor rarely musters up much gusto, and his range is limited; it feels like he's playing it safe, which sometimes limites the impact of the songs. Lyrical content is passionate and very earnst though, and although the content is clearly the sorts of mundane stuff two middle-aged guys would sing about, they remain engaging.

Considering that these two guys are responsible for every note (although the rhythm instruments are unremarkable), "Cycles" is an impressive release. Recommended for anyone seeking a fun bit of smart AOR crossover and wants to root for a prog-underdog; however, "Cycles" needs more flair and songwriting bravery to get that extra star.

Songwriting: 3 Instrumental Performances: 3 Lyrics/Vocals: 3 Style/Emotion/Replay: 3

Prog Leviathan | 3/5 |

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