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John Holden Circles in Time album cover
3.93 | 47 ratings | 4 reviews | 17% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2021

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Avalanche (6:18)
2. High Line (6:58)
3. The Secret of Chapel Field (7:36)
4. Dreams of Cadiz (5:17)
5. Circles (5:47)
6. KV62 (19:23)

Total Time 51:19

Line-up / Musicians

- John Holden / guitars, bass, keyboards, orchestration

- Robin Armstrong / bass (5)
- Marc Atkinson / vocals (3)
- Zaid Crowe / guitar (6)
- Oliver Day / acoustic guitars, mandolin (3,4)
- Nick D'Virgilio / drums, handpan (1,2,6)
- Frank Van Essen / violin, viola (2,3)
- Peter Jones / vocals, saxophone (2,6)
- Sally Minnear / vocals (3,5)
- Jean Pageau / vocals (1)
- Eric Potapenko / guitar (1,2)
- That Joe Payne / vocals (6)
- Henry Rogers / drums (4,5)
- Vikram Shankar / piano & keyboards
- Jeremy Irons / narration (6)
- Elizabeth Holden / backing vocals

Releases information

Label: Plane Groovy (Vinyl)
Format: Vinyl, CD, Digital
March 26, 2021

Thanks to mbzr48 for the addition
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JOHN HOLDEN Circles in Time ratings distribution

(47 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(17%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(28%)
Good, but non-essential (41%)
Collectors/fans only (11%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

JOHN HOLDEN Circles in Time reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I am always excited to see a new John Holden project; his compositions and productions are almost unparalleled in terms of quality and scholarly sincerity.

1. "Avalanche" (6:18) a very polished, professional YES/Neo Prog opening with some amazing drumming (thanks, Nick D'Virgilio!) and awesome guitar play lead into a very theatric Jean Pageau (MYSTERY) vocal set within a very stage-appropriate soundscape. In the fourth minute we get a little keyboard-centered interlude before returning to main vocal themes, but the at 4:25 we're off into another, more serious, instrumental passage. Nice soli all around from LA session guitarist Eric "Potz" Potapenko and John's keys. My favorite song on the album. (9/10)

2. "High Line" (6:58) led by an excellent, emotional vocal by prog journeyman and devotee, Peter Jones (Progzilla, The Colin Tench Project, Red Bazaar, Barock Project, Tiger Moth Tales, Cyan, Camel, etc.) A solid song; my second top three song. (13/15)

3. "The Secret of Chapel Field" (7:36) a spacious, simply constructed and arranged song created to accompany a father-daughter ballad as performed by Sally Minnear and Marc Atkinson (Mostly Autumn, Nine Stones Close, Riversea). Guitars, piano, violin, mandolin, double bass, and synth strings make sparse contributions to airily accompany the lovers tale. Very theatric. Marc's performance as the father feels much more invested, genuinely emotional, than that of Sally as the daughter. The music is quite lovely--especially in the passages that fill space between the vocals. My other top three song. (13.25/15)

4. "Dreams of Cadiz" (5:17) classical-sounding piano--sounding very much like the stage showy stuff that Liberace would perform--opens this before stepping out in lieu of Oliver Day's multiple tracks of Spanish guitars. Piano returns with guitar accompaniment, and the two take turns dancing with the lead, sometimes at the same time, while bass and hand drums lend intermittent support. Electric instruments and jazzy drum kit join in for the final 90 seconds. Impressive but, is this prog? (8.75/10)

5. "Circles" (5:47) piano and acoustic guitar accompany Sally Minnear (on multiple tracks supporting herself) for the first 90 seconds. Bass and incidental synth sounds joins in for the second verse and then programmed drums and percussion and more synths are added for an instrumental passage. Enter drums and the soundscape fills and broadens out a bit, but then we strip back down to bare bones for the third verse. At 4:20 drums, electric bass, and other synth-generated sounds fill more of the field as Sally sings the chorus. We end with a simple version, bringing us back to the beginning. Cute, enjoyable, and innocuous but nothing to write home about. (8.5/10)

6. "KV62" (19:23) a truly theatric epic about the discovery of the tomb of the Egyptian Pharoah Tuth-Ank-Amon. It's gorgeous and definitely ordered as a sequential narrative with great performances from vocalists Pete Jones and That Joe Payne, Vikram Shankar's piano, and John's keyboard orchestration. It is, however, in this latter department that the song falls short, I'm afraid, as either the computer keyboards John had access to during the recording were inferior to some of the modern sample/replicators or else he should have hired the real orchestra to perform the score as he tried to do on his computer keyboard. I appreciate the scoring and effort to carefully realize the orchestral parts on keyboard, but it just doesn't measure up to the real thing. Then there is the fact of so few emotional high points in the song--it seems to travel along at one and the same pace and energy level from start to finish--which is something no one would expect from a prog epic. And the talents of those enlisted within the 20- minute piece are sadly under-utilized. (32/40)

Total Time 51:19

I have to admit that I'm disappointed with this new release of John's. I'm not really sure that this is prog rock-- especially as rock drum kit, electric bass, electric guitar, and electric synths are absent over fully 50% of this music. While the quality of his compositions and engineering are top notch, I'm not as drawn back to the songs of this album as much as with his previous two albums.

B-/3.5 stars; a collection of well-composed and impeccably-produced theatricities; just not up to proggy par of John's previous albums.

Review by kev rowland
5 stars When asked what type of music I enjoy, I normally answer saying that it depends on my mood, but I prefer music made by musicians, whether that be folk, jazz, blues, singer-songwriter, rock, prog, metal, industrial etc. Music does not have to be within a certain genre for me to enjoy it and years back I divided music into "good" (based on my own personal tastes) and "bad". Long before Olav Bjørnsen and I became friends I used to follow his writings on different forums as I realised, he had very similar tastes to my own, which meant I could use his reviews as a guide to discover more music for myself. My tastes in music have expanded greatly over the years, and I am sure it is this which allows me to enjoy the work of John Holden so much as he is also not constrained by trying to fit into any particular box. Some people try to pigeonhole music, but the problem with that is music isn't a pigeon! Here we find John moving away from what many people define as prog, and into areas which are far more theatrical. Just because he has used many progressive musicians and singers does not this a prog album make, at least not in its sense as defined by some, whereas I feel that music is progressing when it is crossing boundaries and bringing in elements from different areas.

I had to smile when I realised that Sally Minnear is one of the singers involved, as that means I will have reviewed her twice in one sitting and given the album she is singing on 10/10 each time. I am sure it is just a coincidence, but Sally could use that when looking for session work! There is so much on this album that one just does not know where to start. How about the flamenco influence on "Dreams of Cadiz"? It is a style rarely brought into rock, and is a delight from beginning to end (if you enjoy this I urge you to track down Carmen's 'Fandangos In Space', surely the finest prog album ever to be totally devoted to the style). But hang on, "High Line" has Peter Jones performing at his very best as he walks through New York while Sally is her usual best on "The Secret of Chapel Field".

The first five songs are all about 5 or 6 minutes in length, but then we get to album closer "KV62" which is much closer to 20 minutes. Telling the story of the discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb, the narration is provided by none other than Jeremy Irons, and there are plenty of Egyptian musical motifs to remind us of where the story is set. This is an epic tale, with some wonderful underlying piano from Vikram Shankar, while both Peter Jones and That Joe Payne provide some great vocals as the two main protagonists. Again, this feels as if John has been inspired by the recent works of Clive Nolan, moving into a far more theatrical area, bringing the story to life. It would have been interesting to have heard this performed with a full-blown orchestra as opposed to "just" samples, but there will always be constraint on recordings like this.

Not only do we get all the lyrics in the booklet, but also a breakdown of what inspired each song and then a far more detailed breakdown again for "KV62". It takes me back in time to when a record was so much more than just a record, as I would sit and stare at the artwork, read the words and whatever else was available, all while playing the music. In so many ways, this is a step backwards to when music was valued and not see as a disposable commodity of little or no worth. This is an album with great depth and presence and one I have enjoyed playing immensely.

Latest members reviews

5 stars John HOLDEN is this english multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer who creates distinctive pastoral progressive sounds; he manages to bring in beautiful people for a condensed rock, folk, jazz, hard, flamenco and classical and is accompanied here by Vikram Shankar on keyboards. Stories of ... (read more)

Report this review (#2574345) | Posted by alainPP | Friday, June 25, 2021 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Another excellent release from John Holden, just shortly after his great second album Rise and Fall. Musically he goes a few steps further in the six songs that form the album. The musical styles range from quite heavy prog (Avalanche, quite a strong opener), laid-back jazziness (The high line, ... (read more)

Report this review (#2510538) | Posted by Theo Verstrael | Wednesday, March 3, 2021 | Review Permanlink

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