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Cirkus - Wild Dogs - Definitive and Official Bootleg CD (album) cover



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5 stars There's so much to say about Wild Dogs, the first album for the Canadian band Cirkus. For a debut album, to go with a double CD of 2 hours and 20 min of music was definitely gorgeous. Nevertheless, you won't feel the whole thing long at any moment. Cirkus explores a so wide range of textures that the album pass as a blink of an eye. There is a strong touch retro prog by the structures of the songs, the construction and the instrumentation but it's new in the same time by the way the fusion is made with ethnic accents and world beat colors. It is definitely what I could describe as organic prog.

We are far from the so called progressive bands who fill CDs of endless guitar solos with keys backgrounds punctuated by boring vocal melodies. On Wild Dogs, each song has a signature, an identity and a specific mood. These guys really know to write nice and powerful melodies. The instrumentation is solid and imaginative to create textured emotions.

The concept album is well balanced from the first 19 minutes epic Dalhousie's Walk, world beat oriented, with a stunning instrumental section to the dark and intense Johnny Got His Gun passing by a latino slap bass drive called Limbo or the instrumental Wild Dogs where the pizzicato violins lead a surprising groove. Lots of symphonic rock stuff like Redeemer, Harlequins, Nightwatch or What's Remain. Over all, an exploration really rich and wide that will eclipse some moments where the mastering is not perfect. Definitely an essential "must have" of the genre.

Report this review (#1816797)
Posted Friday, October 27, 2017 | Review Permalink
5 stars 92/100.... Back in the 1970's halcyon prog years, I remember as a schoolboy greeted on the first day of 6th grade by a taciturn Pink Floyd teacher ordering our class to write an essay on, "How did I spend my summer?" You may wonder, "What's that got to do with Wild Dogs?" Well, upon emerging myself in the mammoth world of Cirkus "Wild Dogs" I couldn't help but muse upon a band that releases an album once a lifetime.

"How did you spend your vacation Alain Prolx and Serge Doucet?" In my minds eye I imagine lead vocals/multi instrumentalist Alain Prolx and guitarist Serge Doucet handing over the double disc I hold in my hands...WiLD Dogs! Somewhere along the way C. Lucas Proulx became involved in the Cirkus as he sings lead & backing vocals too. 40 years is a long time to spend on one album so without further adieux....Wild Dogs

Dalhousie's Walk (19:10) 10/10 An unlikely combo of century old church bells tintinnabulating while pagan drums detonate down green valley chants predating the hippies. This is your Daddy's prog epic! Multiple movements, soaring melodies, with lead vocals reminiscent of Peter Hammill and early folksy David Bowie. Clearly composition is more important than 200 notes a minute. Rich, resplendent, and harmonies to die for! I love this song! The lyrics establish the concept of " We are what we eat". Do we feed the evil dog or the good dog? Proulx's composes addictive keyboard swaths he paints with a broad brush towering keyboard colors. Melody becomes rhythm. This song and album are a time trip. And I mean that in a good way.

Falling The Tree (9:22) 9.5/10 Remember how the late 60's and 70's were so chock full of beautiful music that we thought it would never end? Falling The Tree is like a late 60's Moody Blues addiction I couldn't break. I wish I was a knowledgeable musician then I could describe in detail how wonderful this is...Waves of change,

Limbo (9:17) 10/10 First instrumental... From Trois-Rivières Quebec, Cirkus likes ethnic percussion, near water, flowing down a time tunnel. Resounding soundtrack vignettes of Stanley Kubrick's Barry Lydon or Sally Potter's Orlando. I don't imagine standard drum sets, I see powdered wigs under wisteria over the veranda shirtless shimmering sweating natives pound goat skins taut, tight strung over wooden limbo grooves rhumba and bump and dance at the singles bar, bold brass and woodwinds chit chat followed by a slightly middle class eastern mat of golden grass. Lush keyboards drink and smoke brush strokes deliciously catch moonlight and...

Johnny Got His Gun (6:41) 10/10 Most song oriented song so far. The vocals feel fragilely aggressive the way Lou Read and Tom Verlaine of Television sounded improvised, poetic, and immediate. Again, vocal melody's crescendo and collide whilst subtle harmonies blend and puree. On a personal note, this song is like a drug for me. I splinter and swirl into a spiral...

Hang Over (2:54) 9/10 is the first of two songs in a row partly composed by Loam Tales, a prog band of late 70's in which Alain and Serge first contributed. "We are human" a wild dog metaphor punctuating the concept I feel pervades Wild Dogs. "What are we going to do about it? Feed the nice dog inside us or sell out our insides and feed afraid dog?"

Pastance (4:52) 9.5/10 The initial notes remind me of my Dad's 60's Christmas album...All brass and little drummer boy but that was lasted for only 10 seconds, then the question answer keys riff lay bone graffiti painted teeth edgy and bright like Peter Hammill with a dash of Rik Osasek. Spoiler Alert! Enduring album... getting protective of these wild puppies.

The Nightwatch (6:42) 10/10 In the late 80's I used to daydream Nick Cave went prog? If you spelunker down the esential dark Cave moments enveloped by emotive Tony Bank/ Tony Kaye keys then this song is down that vapory alley, Completely contagious! OMG Orgasmic vocals! Opiate

Dead End (13:53) For me, the most addictive elements of Dead End run rabid down galloping keyboards reminiscent of a lost Tony Banks keyboard rhythm that could uncover hidden swaths of sound, ensconced in a Music Box. Never existed but kind of does now. In search of the lost color. Birthing notes, Serge Doucet leads riff and fascinate me on the fleshy first side of Cirkus's double concept CD. Wild Dogs debut would have been a triple album in the 70's. Still hurtling backwards in time, I catch Ricky Recardo's drum and banana bunch munch down banging on coconuts. Did I mention " This IS A Fun Drum.... Album!"

Intermission....To think, I bought this album for 15 bucks on bandcamp. Steven Wilson-"To the Bone" CD/DVD/Book box set cost me over a hundred. You never know with Prog. I feel the last 7 years is the best progressive rock era since 1969-75'. Stumbling upon Wild Dogs I cannot help but feel Cirkus sounds like a lost treasure undiscovered. I felt like found an exotic kaleidoscopic seashell on the beach.

CD2 - Dog 2 9. Wild Dogs (7:17) (9/10) Unexpectedly, the title song is an instrumental. Violins plucking, Middle Eastern horns and vibrant percussion wax and wane foreshadowing the part 2. The second half of Wild Dogs is the grower side. The melodies are less immediate and more subtle than side one. Perfect instrumental prelude to side 2.

Growing Seeds (10:25) (10/10) sneaks up psychedelic, organic and glorious. Throughout Wild Dogs, Alain Proulx and C. Lucas Proulx sing both lead & backing vocals. I deduced C. Lucas Proulx is either Alain's brother or son since Alaine and lead guitarist Serge Doucet started writing parts of Wild Dogs 40 years ago. Just saying, the vocal contribution of the Proulx tribe is stunning.

What Remains (9:15) (9.5/10) Maybe the most catchy song on side 2, What Remains" contains elements that evoke David Bowie, Nick Cave, Oingo Boingo soaked in honeyed mournful piano seeping like a freezing waterfall.

Sanctus (11:20) (9/10) Sometimes good things come in 3's. The 3rd and last instrumental floats along droning by on a baritone heroine high like Roy Orbison emoting on a tropic slow motion river trip. Mosquitos in amber. Hypnotic wood blocks.

Harlequins (11:45) (7/10) If I had to pick a weaker song, it would be Harlequins. It's not a bad song. I like the retro keyboards and the importance of lyrics moving the concept/story forward toward the finale. I also like the vocals toward the end of the song, however Harlequins doesn't enrapture me the way the rest of the album does.

Redeemer (11:59) 9/10 Keyboards reminiscent of War Child era Jethro Tull accompanied by woody percussion ushers in Redeemer swaying into emotive vocals which speed up toward a catchy new wave prog (circa 79-80) melody. Again, the vocals, keys, and percussion shine. Very pleasurable slow to mid tempo song. Plenty of memorable melodies.

Broken Promesses (4:53) 9.5/10 Last song and what a resplendent addictive vocal melody! Bittersweet and poignant Broken Promesses chokes me up. Melancholy yet hopeful. Beautiful...

Bottom Line... What a hidden gem! Destined to become a lost under the radar classic. Definitely top five 2017 album for me. If you fancy and favor my four other favorite 2017 albums Barock Project "Detachment", Big Big Train- "Grimspound", Wobbler- "From Silence to Somewhere", and Unreal City- "Frammenti Notturni" then doubtlessly you'll relish Cirkus- "Wild Dogs". The only place I know to hear or order Wild Dogs is the Cirkus Bandcamp site.

Report this review (#1824276)
Posted Friday, November 17, 2017 | Review Permalink
3 stars Though if I had to guess I'd say Cirkus took their name from the King Crimson song of the same name, their debut album isn't especially Crimsony - I'd say it more resembles Genesis-esque material with perhaps a pinch of some of the cheesier neo-prog bands like Galadriel or Pendragon. It's a product of home recording, and whilst in some respects the sound quality is pretty good there are points where the mix gets rather muddled - the vocals are, frankly, not the group's strong point at the best of time, but there are points where they get entirely confused and obscured due to insufficient separation from the instruments, for instance.

It's not terrible, and in some ways it's admirable that their ambitions outstrip their resources to this extent - it means that should they get a shot with more polished studio equipment they might be able to produce something superior. At the same time, two hours and 20 minutes of this stuff is outright excessive; had they trimmed this to the absolute top 40 minutes or so of music, it'd be fresher for it.

Report this review (#1865151)
Posted Monday, January 8, 2018 | Review Permalink
5 stars With so many albums coming out, it's like wandering in your favorite confectionery asking yourself which one to chose.

CIRKUS is the easy pick if what you are looking for is a mixt of the 70's taste combines with complex flavors changing all along!

War, quest for redemption, inner fight & peace, calmer & torturous times, life and death are a few themes explored in this double concept album about balance/unbalance, thus the band's name, CIRKUS. But more over, all this is wrapped in beautiful and powerful melodies that stays in your head.

You get into it with a touch African beat evolving into more classical themes and for the perfect illustration of the clash between local inhabitants and colonial forces. This epic song is only the beginning of the journey!

Listening to all songs in order will help you appreciate the well planed evolution.

I hope to be lucky enough to see them LIVE as I'm sure that the strong melodies, the crafted vocal and their sound will just blow me away! Only one small note: although the sound on occasions suffers a little from the homeproduction, it should not prevent you from appreciating the album.

Influences noted: Genesis, Moody blues, Procol Harum, some themes reminded me of Mike Oldfield.

Report this review (#1865815)
Posted Wednesday, January 10, 2018 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars 135 minutes of music constructed and sounding like the quirky, moodshifting way that early GENESIS did with the poor sound quality similar to that of from Genesis to Revelation, Trespass, or BABYLON's 1979 self-titled album . . . or worse. There are some GREAT ideas here but all are either poorly or incompletely developed and embellished and are rendered horribly unto reproducible sound. The vocals are interesting for their delicacy and artistic stylings yet the singing is highly fragile, often strained and missing notes off-key. Once again, I am astounded at the music fellow listeners will give five stars. Were this music finished (polished), engineered and produced to professional standards this might be a four or 4.5 star album but, as is, this is no better than a 2.5 or three star album.

Songs worth repeated listenings: the 80s techno-aided title song, 9. "Wild Dogs" (7:17) (8.5/10; 12. "Sanctus" (11:22) (8.5/10); 15. "Broken Promesses" (4:53) (8/10) and, for its choral section, 13. "Harlequins" (11:45) (8/10).

The only people I would recommend trying this album out would be people who really miss the very early music of FAMILY, GENESIS, BABYLON, and their imitators. I'd recommend bands like early MARILLION, CITIZEN CAIN, THE WATCH, CLEARLIGHT, or even THE WAITING ROOM before I'd recommend anyone going here.

2.5 stars, no more.

Report this review (#1867417)
Posted Wednesday, January 17, 2018 | Review Permalink

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