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Circus - Movin' On CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

4.13 | 118 ratings

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4 stars This is a true overlooked gem of progressive rock by a highly distinctive and original band. As other reviewers have pointed out, in 1977 the music industry was obsessed with the punk and disco bandwagons so a largely acoustic prog band from Switzerland were unlikely to attract much attention.

The sound of Circus is highly distinctive, probably because they have neither a keyboard player or a lead guitarist. At times they sound like Gentle Giant, particularly the use of tuned percussion and wind instruments, whilst the bass and sax interplay is reminscent of Kraan. The shorter songs could almost be by a band like Supertramp - mid atlantic accents, strummed acoustic guitars and tasteful sax breaks, while the longer tracks call Zappa, King Crimson and VDGG to mind. For all of that, Circus have a sound and style that is very much their own.

The first three tracks are pleasant enough acoustic rock songs. The playing and arrangements are very imaginative, but the material itself is rather ordinary and an album of material like this would be nothing to get excited about.

Track 4, Dawn, is the only entirely instrumental piece on the album, and it is on this 8 minute composition that the album really comes to life. At times this could be an unplugged version of Zappa's early to mid 70s MOI with Ruth Underwood and Napoleon Murphy Brock, featuring John Wetton and Bill Bruford as the rhythm section. The whole thing is played with a surprising lightness of touch, and never becomes dark and dissonant although it does get quite avant garde.

The real meat, though, is the 22 minute title track, that stands up well against any of the better known side long epics from the golden era of prog. This track has an almost Canterbury feel, shifting from section to section with a logic all of its own. It's largely instrumental, with some wordless vocals sung in dazzling 3 part harmony and an almost conventional rock song buried somewhere in the middle. The playing is exemplary throughout, and each member shows off his multi instrumental skills without too much pointless noodling.

There's something on here for fans of just about any sub genre (with the possible exception of prog metal), so I would urge every member of the forum to get a copy and give them some long overdue recognition.

Syzygy | 4/5 |


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