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Circus 2000 - An Escape From a Box CD (album) cover


Circus 2000

Psychedelic/Space Rock

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4 stars The Italian progressive rockers CIRCUS 2000 offered up an attention-grabbing profusion of moody progressive rock enchantment. This gatefold LP reproduction strikingly remasters the original recording for more sonic value and lucidity than ever before.

"An Escape From A Box" was originally released in 1972 on the RiFi label and was subsequently re-released in the vinyl and CD formats by Akarma Records in 1999.

The progressive rock elements are strong although the influences of jazz fusion exist with reference to the guitar work of Marcello Quartarone. Lead singer Silvana Aliotta sounded like Lulu with a European accent. By adding her fluttering butterfly voice to the mix with strong classical and operatic overtones, their sound took on a distinct exclusivity. Her voice was flexible and she could have easily been on the cutting edge of the opera circuit rather than on the cusp of groundbreaking progressive rock. She had a lot of range, which gave her fellow musicians tremendous freedom to experiment and play extended compositions.

Side 2 clearly demonstrated the band's ability to create full-length pieces that convincingly stretched their musical wingspan in an impressive fashion.

Report this review (#1423)
Posted Monday, January 24, 2005 | Review Permalink
Carl floyd fan
3 stars This album does grow on you. But for me, the best albums are usually those types. I don't see this as a spacey album or even psychy, as it is labeled, more in the vein of folk rock or just prog rock. I like the female vocals, they rival curved air or fairport convention as my favorite. Give the record a spin, good obscure prog rock.
Report this review (#1424)
Posted Friday, May 27, 2005 | Review Permalink
Andrea Cortese
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars "See your children growing very fast, while your father quietly and slowly die..."

It was a surprise for me to find this "obscure" album. I heard nothing about "Circus 2000" before, but only after having bought their second (and last) album I knew they were an ITALIAN BAND due to the fabolous and useful index by! Recently "An Escape From a Box" has been reissed on cd format by the indefatigable Akarma records... many forgotten gems Akarma permits us to discover...thanks for their work!

At the first listening it is self evident that the most considerable references of Circus 2000 derives from USA and not to the Old World. It is also said that the band, curiously is included in a book dedicated to US' psychedelic-rock! Four are the band members: Silvana Aliotta on (powerful) singing, Marcello "Spooky" Quartarone on electric and acoustic guitars (excellent musician), Gianni Bianco on Fender Bass and Franco "Dede" Lo Previte on one to play keyboards! And this is one the peculiarities of this band from Torino. Plus the fact of a certain jazz/fusion's tendency due to the versatile hand of the guitarist of Quartarore, someone I had already listened before!!

Soon the vocals provided by Silvana seem to me of someone who is between Annie Haslam of Renassaince and Janis Joplin. Above all, the expert english accent of Silvana made italian people think this was a band arriving directly from California.

This 1972's work is, as always in the italian prog scene of the seventies, very short in running time but well refined with some influences from progressive rock. The album includes (only) five tracks and offers songs between 5 and 8,30 mns time long. Akarma release includes to the cd two interesting bonus tracks...more commercial vein and structure, completely sung in italian.

The opener "Hey Man" was the leading track form Circus. "Need" (8,36 mns) is the best track of the album through the eyes of a good proglover listener! Warning: the album may grow on you after some listenings.

Report this review (#70499)
Posted Saturday, February 25, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Italian hippie-rock with female English vocals

Circus 2000 from Turin formed in 1970 and released two full length albums along with a few singles before disbanding in 1973. While I have not heard their debut this album seems to be influenced by the Airplane and the California hippie rock sound. Another band that they instantly reminded me of was Earth and Fire mostly due to the similar voice of Silvana Aliotta. Her voice is pure unbridled attitude, sultry and sensual, with a bit of an accent to add to the effect. Some may find her voice a bit irritating at times as it is unusual but if you like the singers of the bands above you should be OK.

The music of "An Escape From A Box" is not essential progressive music by any stretch, but period hippie rock complete with stereotypical lyrics and trippy guitars. I would almost describe the sound as more psych-blues-rock than space rock or pure psych, they head off occasionally into Big Brother territory as well. The band is pretty good with crisp drumming and an edgy guitar sound and thankfully they take some space and stretch out at times. It always sort of holds back from becoming super-heavy with plenty of light touches. The nearly 9 minute "Need" is the standout to me. These single notes drenched in wah-wah alternated with three concise strummed chords, cleanly played, alternating with Silvana's amazing vocal. Several sections of bluesy, trippy guitar soloing here and there. Then there is an emotional vocal build-up that leads into a spacey section of rapid bass/drums over wordless vocals harmonies before some tablas softly finish the track. Some moments like the early acoustic parts of "Hey Man" have a folkie feel to them sounding a bit like the Dead when Donna would sing. The album packs a nice, polished, crisp sound for 1972 and I can't emphasize enough the good balance they achieve between "light" and "heavy" moments. As good as Silvana is she does not overshadow the players in the band who shine by not only what the play but the manner in which they play: careful, nuanced, effectively. [Side note: Silvana's daughter Valeria Caponnetto Delleani can be heard on myspace. Her music is not nearly as interesting as Circus 2000 but her voice is good like her mom.]

Circus 2000 is a very good period album and you do not have to be an Italian Prog fan to enjoy this. Any fan of British and American hippie rock will do fine with this album. Even fans of acid-folk like the Holderlin's Traum debut should like this, although Circus 2000 is heavier than that. The VM-015 issue features good sound but measly information, simply a foldover insert with lyrics and miniscule bio in Italian.

Report this review (#195263)
Posted Saturday, December 27, 2008 | Review Permalink

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