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Cirrus Bay


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Cirrus Bay The Art of Vanishing album cover
3.75 | 44 ratings | 6 reviews | 9% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2019

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. A Blossom of Hills (10:28)
2. Undiscovered Isle (2:52)
3. A Garment of Clouds (5:02)
4. The North Country (5:16)
5. Sooke Harbour (3:06)
6. Eden (3:42)
7. Unexpected Wonder (6:55)
8. Lost and Profound (3:02)
9. The Dictator (4:07)
10. The Vanishing Place (10:08)

Total Time 54:38

Line-up / Musicians

- Bill Gillham / electric & acoustic guitars, keyboards, recorder, banjitar, backing vocals, composer, co-producer

- Tai Shan / lead vocals
- Sharra Acle / backing vocals
- Mark Blasco / drums, bass, saxophone, guitar, backing vocals, co-producer

Releases information

Artwork: Lee Gaskins

Digital album (2019)

Thanks to mbzr48 for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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Buy CIRRUS BAY The Art of Vanishing Music

CIRRUS BAY The Art of Vanishing ratings distribution

(44 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(9%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(48%)
Good, but non-essential (39%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (5%)

CIRRUS BAY The Art of Vanishing reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars The band Cirrus Bay started out in 2001 as an acoustic duo that played coffee houses. Since then, they have evolved to a full- blown Neo-prog.. Since 2008 to the present day, they have released 6 albums, their 6th album being called "The Art of Vanishing" released in June of 2019. Currently, the band line-up consists of founder Bill Gillham and Mark Blasco, who both play most of the instruments and provide backing vocals. On this album, Tai Shan provides the lead vocals and Sharra Acie sings backup vocals. The album consists of 11 tracks, 2 of which are just over 10 minutes which bookend the album, with the entire album's duration being over 54 minutes.

"A Blossom of Hills" begins with some nice acoustic work which is soon joined by some very lovely vocals, starting with Tai alone, and then soon with harmonization. After 2 minutes, the tempo moves a lot faster and the entire band plays, but this strangely fades out rather quickly and the acoustic sound returns. The music gets a bit atmospheric, and then suddenly goes up tempo again without any warning and the guitar improvises off of a riff. This is followed by a synth solo, the rhythm breaks, then returns with vocals. This time the tempo remains upbeat for a while, but the first half of the track seemed quite choppy and poorly executed, but improves in the 2nd half. Everything calms again around the 7 minute mark and the interchanging slow to fast tempo pattern continues through the track.

"Undiscovered Isle" is a nice, peaceful acoustic instrumental track. "A Garment of Clouds" begins immediately with the full band and the vocalist coming in early. The music is simple and easy to listen to, the singing it lovely, but everything else moves ahead in a standard beat. "The North Country" is another instrumental that follows a solider beat with the organ taking the lead and with the overall sound remaining pretty mellow. After two minutes, the beat and sound gets a little heavier and the organ and guitar echo each other pretty much note for note. In the last minute, it returns to the original sound. "Sooke Harbour" goes for a more pastoral feel with acoustic guitar and a recorder (later joined by sax) and a soft, moderate rhythm which approaches a folk-ish vibe. "Eden" is another straightforward sounding track with a smooth, moderate and rolling feel, a rollicking synth solo appears in the instrumental break, followed by wordless vocals and then a short guitar section before returning to the main vocal melody.

"Unexpected Wonder" is a bit longer nearing the 7 minute mark. The rhythm is a bit trickier here. There is some nice sax supported by vibes and other keys with some guitar showing through. The moderate feel suddenly stops and then everything starts again with a more uptempo feel, again chopped and slightly clumsy like in the first track. Sometimes the music moves from one section to another quite smoothly, but other times, it seems like it gets cut off. But the track is more progressive like the first track, just not always well executed, or edited. Overall, however, the music remains mellow and safe. "Lost and Profound" returns to the shorter track format. It is soft and without rhythm with a piano backing up the sax, with a classical feel to it, except for the sax which might remind you of bad new age music. Kenny G anyone? "The Dictator" brings back the more standard, soft-rock sound, but at least features the lovely singing.

"The Vanishing Place" is the closing track, and the other 10 minute song. The track begins with solo piano in a minor key. Soon a sax plays along and then the band stumbles in. Vocals begin shortly after. As is the case with the other two longer tracks, this one is more progressive, but still retains the soft rock sound that pretty much continues through the entire album. The song pretty much stays the same all the way through, however, offering no real highpoints or surprises.

This music would be recommended to those that like their music on the soft side, with hints of folk tendencies throughout. There are progressive tracks, usually the longer ones with the many shorter tracks being more straightforward. However, the music isn't very challenging and is in a soft-rock style. The more progressive sections are somewhat clumsy and not very well edited with fade outs or cut offs between sections. The music isn't bad though, but nothing really stands out on the album either. The tracks stay quite safe sounding, but at least the vocalist is good, so that helps. 3 stars.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A promising release from Bill Gillham and his Cirrus Bay support posse. I like Bill's attempts at a more classic Prog Folk sound--including asking for more folk-like vocal performances from his crystal-voiced singers.

1. "A Blossom of Hills" (10:28) for its first four minutes this song is constructed as a Prog Folk song from about 1970-1 with the sound palette of early ANT PHILLIPS guitar albums and a MADDY PRIOR or JUDY DYBLE-like voice in the lead. Then the music bursts forward into more jazz-folk-rock canter until settling back into the Celtic folk sound and pacing of the opening at 6:50. I have to admit, I really like this folkier side to Bill's work--but it works well in contrast to the BYRDS-like music in the fast section. Great performance by Tai Shan. Nice work, Cirrus Bay! Maybe my favorite song you've ever done. (18/20)

2. "Undiscovered Isle" (2:52) a nice folk guitar solo somewhere between Will Ackerman and Ant Phillips. (8.5/10)

3. "A Garment of Clouds" (5:02) sounds like song built to support a Sandy Denny, Jacqui MacShee, Judy Dyble, Maddy Prior, or Barbara Gaskin vocal performance. Nice prog folk. The dreamy sax-drenched left turn at the three minute mark does nothing, thus the U-turn to get back to Maddy's lovely voice--I mean Tia's. Nice, fitting pastoral lyrics. Overall, a very nice song. (8.75/10)

4. "The North Country" (5:16) that last two songs had helped me almost forget that this was Cirrus Bay, but here we are back to the plodding straight-time simplicity that is typical of most CB songs. This one is in fact so rudimentary in its construction and so "ancient" in its sound that it sounds like it could come from a practice session for some band director's middle school band. Even the shift into second gear at the 2:18 mark doesn't save this 1960s warmup song. How the Byrds sounded at age 14. Odd to have so many instrumentals on a CB album. (7.75/10)

5. "Sooke Harbour" (3:06) a nice little folk pseudo-achronistic instrumental. (4.5/5)

6. "Eden" (3:42) a kind of 1960s Jackie DeShannon song. Nice but it'd never make it onto the charts. Nice Annie-Haslam-like vocalise by Tia in several sections. (7.75/10)

7. "Unexpected Wonder" (6:55) some new sounds (for CB) yet turn out to be 1960s old. Same plodding pacing, same simple though catchy melodies, same simple constructs and soli, just slightly different sound palette for this long instrumental. I'll give Bill a little credit: there is some tension and discord in the third and fourth minutes with his use of minor chords, but it changes little the end result. I don't like the Wurlitzer organ used. (11/15)

8. "Lost and Profound" (3:02) piano and clarinet. A little jazzier than usual until Bill's piano begins sounding like a piano teacher's support play for a student at the 0:48 mark. An étude! (For a fairly unexceptional student.) (3.75/5)

9. "The Dictator" (4:07) another very straightforward song, almost Beatles-ish, though far more simple. Nice vocal performance in the B "chorus" section. (8/10)

10. "The Vanishing Place" (10:08) opens with some tension-filled discordant piano arpeggi before switching to bouncy chords in support of clarinet. At the 0:48 second mark, drums burst in with the full band and voice to give us a full soundscape of simple prog. A few pseudo-switches in timing help us to believe that this is a more complex song than it is. It's not. The timing is straightforward, sometimes doubling or halving, but always one directional. (16.75/20)

Total Time 54:38

I feel that the musical productions of Bill Gillham had been getting stronger over the arc of his career--especially since the 2009 Cirrus Bay release, A Step Into Elsewhere, which had shown so much promise and potential. But we may be on the descending curve of that arc now as the productions here are lacking in so many ways none of which are more important than enthusiasm. These songs feel tired--as if they are rehashings of old, already used-up themes and hooks. And the sad and disappointing part is that I love the sound of Cirrus Bay! I always have! It's just that it has rarely stepped beyond the realm of ABC prog into something more creative and exciting. Yes, there is a place and praise for imitation, but one would hope that an artist--that a person--can grow, can evolve and try new things. I'm not sure Bill would see it this way. His music is very pretty, and very uplifting, it just tends to drag and begins to sound like background music when I believe it shouldn't.

B-/3.5 stars; a nice addition to the compendium of Prog World but nothing to write home about.

Latest members reviews

4 stars Cirrus Bay are a Washington State-based symphonic/neo-prog project of Bill Gillham, currently on hiatus. Sadly overlooked by many when their albums were released, there is much for followers of Renaissance, the classic Genesis era and the Canterbury sound to enjoy in their pastoral, dreamy music ... (read more)

Report this review (#2581381) | Posted by Squonk19 | Monday, July 26, 2021 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Another solid effort from Cirrus Bay, who changes somewhat with each release, but also retains similar elements, notably strong melody and a love for chord and key changes, sometimes recalling Tony Banks. This is probably less 'proggy' but also more beautiful than 'Places Unseen'. The songs brea ... (read more)

Report this review (#2248763) | Posted by snelling | Thursday, September 5, 2019 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The progressive rock band Cirrus Bay have been around since 2008 when they released their first commercial album entitled The Slipping of a Day. I was fortunate enough to be a part of that project since I have known and been friends with Front man Bill Gillham for over 35 years. Bill and I have ... (read more)

Report this review (#2248511) | Posted by Briaz50000 | Wednesday, September 4, 2019 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Bill Gillham has developed into one of the better composers/writers out there, having a penchant for beautiful melodies that sometimes will start in one key and end in another. Brian Wilson toyed with this at times. Dave Stewart was a master of it, and of course Tony Banks was a fan of this sort ... (read more)

Report this review (#2236332) | Posted by brotherjohn | Tuesday, July 9, 2019 | Review Permanlink

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