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Cirrus Bay


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Cirrus Bay A Step into Elsewhere album cover
3.72 | 69 ratings | 8 reviews | 9% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2009

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Serenity in a Nutshell (13:11)
2. Out of the Cold (5:48)
3. The Exposure of Truth (9:23)
4. Walking in Shadows (5:58)
5. The Secret Country (3:33)
6. Zenobia (16:47)

Total Time 54:40

Line-up / Musicians

- Bill Gillham / guitar, keyboards, mandolin, composer, co-producer

- Anisha Gillham / vocals
- Sharra Acle (Gillham) / vocals
- Mark Blasco / drums, bass, co-producer

Releases information

Artwork: Michael Brighenti

CD Self-released - 0525-02009-2 (2009, US)

Thanks to windhawk for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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CIRRUS BAY A Step into Elsewhere ratings distribution

(69 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(9%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(50%)
Good, but non-essential (25%)
Collectors/fans only (13%)
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)

CIRRUS BAY A Step into Elsewhere reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I've just come into full awareness of this wonderful album of beautiful, uplifing music. As a real lover of female vocalists--and RENAISSANCE/ANNIE HASLAM in particular--this group comes as quite a refreshing reward. IONA, MOSTLY AUTUMN, THE GATHERING, PURE REASON REVOLUTION, and THE REASONING have all been teases. Hello world! This is CIRRUS BAY! Like previous reviewers, this group's excellent song structures and instrumentation choices remind me of a GENESIS-RENAISSANCE mix--or, rather, what might have been if Annie had been invited to step in once Peter Gabriel and Steve Hackett had left Genesis. The song structures are very similar to the Wind and Wuthering and And Then There Were Three era--which produced beautiful music that was then diminished (IMO) by weak-to-weird-to-downright-awful lyrics. The songs (aside from the AYREON-sounding "Walking in Shadows") sound like collaborations and performances from TONY BANKS and MIKE RUTHERFORD.

1. "Serenity in a Nutshell." The album begins with its best song, a near flawless epic. Crashing in with thick waves of heavy mellotron and bass pedals, the song suddenly transitions into a much more pastoral piece with acoustic guitar arppegios and recorder, before our stellar vocalist enters. And surprise: There are two lovely voices harmonizing with each other (I wish they'd do more of this on the rest of the album for this is in fact one of the elements that makes this song stand so much higher above the others?as great as they are!) so many key and chord and tempo changes that all work--they all serve to suck the listener into prog bliss--like Ulysses strapped to the mast listening to the song of the Sirens. This may be the song they were singing/playing!!! I love the multiple guitar strumming and alternating acoustic and electric leads combining RENAISSANCE's "Can You Hear Me?" and end of "Cinema Show" between the 5:28 and 7:25 marks. Amazing! Then those amazing vocal harmonies! A masterpiece of progressive rock music for all times! 10/10

2. "Out of the Cold" begins with a definite Mike Rutherford electric guitar solo over some of Tony's finest chord progressions and organ playing. The vocals enter during a particularly straightforward "poppy" section before a Lamb Lies Down on Broadway organ bridge at the 2:15 mark brings me back to prog heaven. Love this organ sound! The Lamb similarities continue with the song's progression into a 30-second instrumental section beginning at the 3:10 mark. (Too bad it's not Phil's drumming! He was amazing!) Love the slide guitar and 12-string work--and mandolin strumming--just before the slowed-down outro. 8/10

3. "The Exposure of Truth" took the longest for me to like because of the many chord, key and tempo changes. Also, the vocals on this one felt a little less "stable"--i.e. because they are so isolated above the music there are times when my ear can't help but question her pitch accuracy. But then, I remember sometimes wondering the same thing about Annie H. in the earlier (less treated/filtered) Renaissance days. A great song of which Tony Banks should be quite proud! I love the (oh-so-rare) upbeat, "happy" feel of this (and many of this album's) song(s). 8/10

4. "Walking in Shadows" sounds so ARJEN LUCASSEN! Maybe the 'best song he never wrote'! An awesome song whose heaviness gives the album a little bit better 'fullness' or 'balance.' 8/10

5. "The Secret Country" sounds to me more like a 1970's collaboration between ANTHONY PHILLIPS (Private Parts and Pieces "Tibetan Yak Music") and RICK WAKEMAN (Six Wives of Henry VIII). Great song except for the odd sounding 'lonely' electric guitar solo near the 2:45 mark. 8/10

6. "Zenobia" is definitely "One for the Vine, Part Two." And what a beautiful song was the first! This one does not shame or disparage the first. Some actual heart-wrenching chord changes--so beautiful! Love the single strums of the flanged acoustic guitar at the 4:40 mark, followed by the nylon string solo over marching piano and snare 5:35 to 6:20. Then: Woah! Steve Hackett tries to make an appearance, only to find himself confronted by a brief duel with Tony at the 7:20 mark--which is then interrupted by a brief vocal before everyone backs into true GENESIS support of a classic HACKETT solo at the from the 8:10 to 9:12 marks. 9:42 sees Tony's turn--AAAHHHH! I'm in GENESIS heaven! And with that angelic yet-sultry voice in the mix as well! I've died and gone to heaven! And the finale escalates into a truly Genesis-like melodramatic ending. 8/10

I'm going to give this album five stars for its consistent level of beauty and for the gift of finally merging the sounds and styles of my two favorite 70s bands. "Step into Elsewhere" is so right! I will not hesitate to say that this is truly a masterpiece of Neo-Prog. (I apologize to Bill, Anisha, Sharra, Mark and Alex for all of the GENESIS and RENAISSANCE eferences/credits. Marvelous work you guys! More, please. LOTS more!)


Re-evaluation October, 2010.

Upon repeated listenings over the last few months, I have decided that my initial exuberance was a little over blown. The album lacks musically--in depth, variety, and complexity. As Tarcisio says, the band will be interesting to follow to see how they 'mature.' Great sound, great instrumental choices, great music, great vocalist; their compositional skill needs more development--more risk-taking (better drumming and more sophisticated rhythmic choices). Adjusted down to four stars.

Review by Tarcisio Moura
4 stars After reading Brufordfreak´s enthusiastic review of this album (and the high ratings others gave it), I just knew I had to have it. Besides, the group has a female singer and being a sucker for anything that reminds me of Renaissance, I really like girl singing in prog music. Well, A Step Into Elsewhere is definitly an interesting and exciting CD. It´s Cirrus Bay´s second album and it was released last year. And I must say that while I´m not really that overwhelmed by it as some colleagues here are, I have to say it is still quite impressive and powerful.

The music of Cirrus Bay is a curious mix: think of Jane Relf (Renaissance, Illusion), backed by musicians highly influenced by Steve Hackett and Tony Banks, plus a jazzy rhythm section. That´s the picture I have after listening to this record. The sound is definitly progressive, a bit retro, with plenty of british folk (although they are really from the USA) and jazz bits throughout the whole CD. The main man behind all this is multi instrumentist Bill Gillham, who plays just about everything on this record, except the drums. And he does quite a great job here considering the complex themes and lush arrangements that have tons of keyboards orchestrations and fine guitar lines (both acoustic and electric). Yes is another reference in some parts. These guys really love 70´s prog!

Of course the highlight of this album is Sharra Acle´s beautiful vocals. She has a great voice and a lot of emotion and technique in her delivering. While the songwriting here is definitly not totally developed as far as I can see, it is still very strong and shows great promise. All tracks are well crafted and the overall quality of them ranges from very good to excellent with no fillers to be found anywhere. In fact, after some spins I thought this CD was very short, but at 54 minutes, it is average time for a new act. I guess the music is so captavating you just keep longing for more.

Production is top notch and the cover art is also very well done.

Conclusion: excellent addition to any prog music colletion. If you like 70´s symphonic prog musis with very good female vocals, then this is a must have. I´m really looking forward to hear their next works. Rating: somewhere between 4 and 4,5 stars. Highly recommended.

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Cirrus Bay is a US duo that relies on a rather well travelled prog road, a pastoral, meandering symphonic highway that features the multi-instrumentalist talents of Bill Gillham, who shines on guitar and keys and Mark Blasco who holds down the bass and the drums. The Renaissance mould of heavenly female lead vocals is the main drawing point, so any hints of Annie Haslam are well-founded, as both Sharra Acle and Anisha Gillham supply some wondrous vocalizing. This means that it will take quite a few spins before this one soaks in. The opening 13 minute 'Serenity in a Nutshell' sets to define their style right from the get go with plenty of acoustic guitar driven interventions that harkens back to Ant Phillips-era Genesis, carpeted by some deft keyboard sonics that supply flute- like timbres that challenge the senses. The raging lead guitar outro is amiably intense, catching you somewhat off guard in a most satisfying manner. 'Out of the Cold' is more immediate, a slight country feel due to the twangy guitars (with a little slide work to boot) which to this reviewer sounds a tad hokey but that's my bias talking again and it's a short track anyway. Cirrus Bay is way more interesting when the tone becomes serious or even somber like on 'the Exposure of Truth', a piece that combines breezy airs and strange odd sweeps during its 9 minute run. The brash 'Walking In Shadows' gets heavy and its delicious, way moodier and the rough guitar makes it raucous in a good way. You would swear hearing an indie band demo, but the prog elements know how to come to the fore. A superb axe solo kills this one off. Love this track. No two tracks are similar up to now, the weird 'The Secret Country' tickles the edges of dissonance in its simplest form, mostly keyboard driven but they sound a little too plastic to make a huge impact, again its at least brief. The monstrous 'Zenobia' finishes this recording, a 16 minute symphonic exploration that relives the opener in style, this one even closer to the Genesis/Renaissance dynamics than ever, the radiant vocals almost jazzy in a way, lazing nicely amid the synth driven clouds. The bass /lead guitar parallels are impressive; the explosive mid-section first provides accordion-like tones that come well invited and then evolves into a full lead blowout that is staggering. More please!. A ragtime piano does wonders as well, playful bunch!

In the end, it must be said that there is definite talent here but leaves a sense of under accomplishment, sort of a 'could have been even better' feel that will not disappear with repeated listens. A darker production would have helped immeasurably as it's a tad too pristine and at times, even robotic. 3.5 cloudy inlets

Review by progrules
4 stars With just a couple of reviews for this album Cirrus Bay obviously hasn't made a real breakthrough so far. And that's strange because we're talking about high quality prog with this band. First resemblance I notice is to Glass Hammer mainly caused by the female vocals. But I also hear a touch of Thieves Kitchen although an immediate additional remark will have to be made there that Thieves Kitchen likes to play the dissonant style whilst Cirrus Bay plays the 100% harmonic melodic sort of music. Another feature is the laid back mellotron you can hear all the way through. All instruments are handled by skilled musicians by the way.

And this harmonic music is of the soothing kind. If you want to be enchanted for almost an hour this disc is very recommended. It's not highly original or challenging prog but more like wonderful music with a touch of "inventive composition". And since I'm a sucker for this kind of prog I can only give a high rating for A Step into Elsewhere. Not a masterpiece but an excellent addition for most prog collections for sure.

Review by Warthur
3 stars A Step Into Elsewhere is Cirrus Bay's second album but the first one which they really stand by - their official website discounts the debut The Slipping of a Day as a grab-bag of various musical ideas developed over time. It seems that the core band members Bill Gillham and Sharra Acle really firmed up their ideas about what they actually wanted to do with this project in the meantime, and they decided to go for fairly straight-down-the-line neo-prog in a Genesis- influenced style with a few folkier elements creeping in thanks to Bill's use of mandolin and recorder. Sharra's vocals are quite nice in a mildly generic "woman in a prog band singing in a style not really much like Anne Haslam but vaguely intended to remind us of Haslam" way, and the release benefits from some interesting compositions. Not brilliant, but not half bad if you're into this particular style of neo-prog.
Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Days after the release of ''The slipping of a day'' Cirrus Bay's leader Bill Gillham was determined not to allow time to skip heading to a second release.The band's brand new effort was recorded in just a few months, again with Sharra Acle and Bill's sister Anisha on vocals and the always appreciated help of Mark Blasco on bass and drums.Blasco was also responsible for the production of the album, which was eventually entitled ''A step into elsewhere'', released privately in 2009.

With this album Cirrus Bay established themselves as a rising force in the modern Symphonic Rock field with their sound always bursting these elegant GENESIS stylings, wrapped up in long, lush arrangementes with elaborate melodies and atmospheric textures.More than ever their sound recalls MAGENTA's early albums, being definitely of symphonic nature with a few Neo-styled moves, led by flashy synth parts akin to GALLEON or US.The delicate and smooth musicianship includes a fair amount of gentle acoustic moments mixed with STEVE HACKETT-like electric textures and rich keyboard variations with Mellotrons, synthesizers, piano and organ.The careful production unleashes the talent of Bill Gillham as a composer.The man has put up stretched, interesting compositions with a strong 70's flavor, based on the alternating vintage and modern vibes and his ability to offer impressive, grandiose yet melodic symphonic movements with a pompous atmosphere.There are also some nice flute parts contained, a factor making Cirrus Bay's sound even closer to old GENESIS, while the absolute peak comes with the 16-min. ''Zenobia'', a lovely piece of nostalgic Symphonic Rock with electroacoustic changes, orchestral textures, BANKS-influenced synth and piano lines and dreamy female vocals.

No question, this is a must have for any fan of contemporary Symphonic Rock with a heavy vintage aura.Lack of personality is an issue, but really...who cares when the music is so well-executed?Strongly recommended.This group is capable of creating a future masterpiece...3.5 stars.

Latest members reviews

5 stars An excellent melody-oriented symphonic album with emphasis on chord progressions rather than on solos and wankery. The album starts with the very well written 'Serenity In A Nutshell', building as it travels through various changes, each one seeming to be stronger than the last. I'm not sure who thi ... (read more)

Report this review (#252088) | Posted by snelling | Saturday, November 21, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Cirrus Bay's sophomore release is significantly better than their debut, and is one of the most beautiful albums to come out in recent years. Gorgeous, endearing melodies abound and killer chord progressions call to mind Tony Banks and Dave Stewart in their mix of emotion and complexity. Sharr ... (read more)

Report this review (#251051) | Posted by deedee | Monday, November 16, 2009 | Review Permanlink

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