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Circuline biography
CIRCULINE is an American crossover prog band formed in early 2014 when the prog tribute band DOWNING GREY broke up leaving keyboard player Andrew COLYER, guitar player Bill SHANNON and drummer Darin BRANNON looking for a vehicle to write original material for. They quickly recruited fellow DOWNING GREY alumni Billy SPILANE and Natalie BROWN to fill out the vocal duties.

COLYER, SHANNON and BRANNON started writing the band's first album, "Return" in February of 2014 enlisting the aid of Randy MCSTINE (LO-FI RESISTANCE, SOUND OF CONTACT, THE PINK FLOYD EXPERIENCE) to assist in the writing process and Matt DORSEY (SOUND OF CONTACT) to lay down the majority of the bass tracks as well as the mixing for the debut. In December, the band brought on bassist Paul RANIERI as a permanent member of the band, completing the lineup.

CIRCULINE released their debut, "Return" on April 24, 2015 and celebrated with a short tour on the northeastern United States in support of GLASS HAMMER. The band has begun work on their second album and has a busy live schedule for the remainder of 2015.

Like many modern crossover artists, CIRCULINE does not focus on the twenty minute epic pieces but prefer to make a strong statement in shorter songs. The music features lush soundscapes and big vocal harmonies. Fans of 3RDEGREE, DREAM THE ELECTRIC SHEEP, ELEPHANTS OF SCOTLAND and other modern prog bands may enjoy CIRCULINE.

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CIRCULINE discography

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CIRCULINE top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.89 | 17 ratings
3.84 | 12 ratings

CIRCULINE Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 1 ratings

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CIRCULINE Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

CIRCULINE Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Circulive::Majestik by CIRCULINE album cover Live, 2018
4.00 | 1 ratings

Circuline Crossover Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

— First review of this album —
4 stars Circuline is one of the new breed prog rock bands from the USA, manned by a stellar crew of talented musicians who clearly know their stuff. They have released two studio albums that have captured attention within the prog community, led musically by keyboardist Andrew Colyer and drummer Darin Brannon, and it was perhaps time to show off their live skills in order to trly appreciate their considerable talents. Especially within the progressive rock genre, the live experience often can stamp the highest level of praise upon a style that certainly can benefit from studio wizardry and special effects to elevate their craft to the loftiest technical heights. I remember seing the Flower Kings live and though they are not necessarily among my super favorites on record , I must admit that on a stage, they were mind-blowing in terms of all the twists and turns they performed seemingly at will.

Within the context of the 13th International Rites of Spring festival at Majestic Theater in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on Saturday May7, 2016, the band owned the stage and recorded this interesting visual and aural document . Filling out the line-up are singers Natalie Brown (sarcasm, red lipstick and corsets) and second guitarist Billy Spillane, stunning guitarist Beledo as well as guests Harold Skeete (Ad Astra) on bass and violinist Joe Denizon (Stratospheerius).

The instrumental overture ''New Day'' features the tortuous electric guitar swerves that sets the mood perfectly, as these musicians excel at their respective instruments, erecting complex sounds and moody atmospheres that will permeate their set. Andrew in particular, shows some fabulous dexterity on piano, as he introduces ''Who I Am'', leading the band into the dual vocals that hits the center stage with conviction. The complexity wrestles with accessibility, swirling, swerving, diving and careening in various directions., in controlled frenzy.

Three tracks from their debut release are up next , ''Return'' is typical of the American prog style that insists on creative brightness and the instrumentalists certainly don't shirk their responsabilities, Beledo shooting off some blistering leads while Andrew sets the melodic platform, ably abetted by Darren's positive drum beat. ''Forbidden Planet'' shows off a more lyrical style, an anthem-like piece where both Spillane and Brown excel , solidified by Beledo's blooming guitar forays and Colyer's symphonic keys. ''Hollow'' begins with serene piano and evolves into a roller coaster of soft and hard, alternating moods that keep you on edge, a stop/start musical collage that confounds and stretches the enveloppe.

The sound becomes a tad muddled on ''Stereotypes'', salvaged by some great individual moments from Natalie, Andrew and Beledo, while ''Inception'' delivers more symphonic overload. Bassist Harold Skeete does a bass solo on ''America the Beautiful'' , a piece many have heard before in a more traditional setting, that segues nicely into the highlight track ''Nautilus'', a powerful ode to an aquatic universe 'circulined' by Andrew's liquid keyboards, his synth solo particularly hinting at Star Trek-like themes, while the bass carves below. The delicate ''One Wish'' keeps the foot on the petal with some fine instrumental adornments until we appropriately reach ''Summit'', another definite highpoint where the drums get tho excel and shine in the solo spotlight, prefaced by a much jazzier emanation from guitarist Beledo, aided by dense dual vocals. The piano and drum interplay is tense and delightful, the mood superlative.

Ending with ''Stay'' and ''Silence Revealed'', the concert showcases an American band that has put its stamp on the prog community and should continue to provide interesting music for all the behold.

4 live arcs

 Counterpoint by CIRCULINE album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.84 | 12 ratings

Circuline Crossover Prog

Review by Evolver
Special Collaborator Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

4 stars Circuline's latest album appears to be destined to be near the top of my list of the best albums of 2016. The strength of their songwriting and performance, along with a mastery of a number of prog styles has kept this disc in heavy rotation in my CD player for months now.

The album features many guest guitarists, most notable, to me at least, are Stanley Whitaker From Happy The Man, Doug Ott from Enchant, and Kamran Alan Shikoh from Glass Hammer, who all rise to the occasion on their tracks.

Opening with "New Day", a sort of post rock guitar blast, with Apollo 11 astronaut snippets (not the most original concept, I know), the album begins with a hint of the energy and excitement to come.

The second track, "Who I Am", veers toward the area prog sound, sort of like a blend of Spock's Beard and Styx (the good Styx, not the later, poppy Styx). And it works.

So we get a ballad, "Forbidden Planet", lifted by a great Alek Darson (of Fright Pig) guitar solo, some more straight ahead tracks, like "Nautilus", with a beautiful slinky bass line, a riff in the verses that reminds me a bit of the Allman Brothers' "Midnight Rider", and a nod to one of my all time favorite TV shows, a couple of short experimental tracks, and two powerful prog epics, "Hollow" and "Summit", the highlights of the album.

As I mentioned earlier, the instument performances are exceptional. My only (slight) criticism is the vocalist Billy Spillane, who sounds, when singing alone, slightly off, but I just can't pinpoint what is off - his melodies don't quite mesh with the music. Conversely, when he blends with the other lead vocalist, Natalie Brown, the results are outstanding.

 Counterpoint by CIRCULINE album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.84 | 12 ratings

Circuline Crossover Prog

Review by rogerthat
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Like the other American prog rock band, 3RD Degree, that had requested me to review their album, Circuline is short on releases but long on experience. Some of its lineup have already been performing for 25-30 years. Unfortunately, it shows.

The musicianship is consistently top notch, often outstanding. The music is also very authentically prog; it's not pop/rock with a few time signature changes thrown in in a couple of tracks. The problem, from my perspective, is not a lot of it sounds very new.

Maybe the problem is me as I am almost heretical when it comes to retro-prog (and my idea of retro-prog is a little different from what is commonly understood; if it's Queensryche-like and it's 2016, it's still retro prog to me). From the beginning, I felt like I had been transported to the beginnings of prog metal in the mid-late 80s. When bright guitar leads, heavily influenced by the ace shredders that were a huge part of that decade's rock music, abounded. When powerful, pounding drums were favoured over the busy subtlety of the 70s. Case in point: the shred-coda of Hollow, the album's obligatory 10 minute plus mini epic.

It is certainly technically very impressive but at this point, it takes a lot for this kind of music to draw me in (colour me jaded but it is what it is). Outstanding vocals might help. I don't really hear that on this album with all due respect to Billy Spillane's resume. The vocals are competent and fairly typical of what I'd expect to hear on a prog album, nothing more, nothing less.

It would be one thing if this material was all put together in the 80s and it never left the nest until now. Perhaps, that was the case too; but the band describe themselves as modern prog. Maybe to some extent it is an accurate description given that a lot of modern prog pays homage to sounds from bygone eras. But when I hear the word modern, I expect a little more 21st century. This album is not completely devoid of 21st century sounds but you have to kind of search for them in the midst of largely 80s sounding music (including 80s keyboard tones, I kid you not).

Although much of the above may sound harsh, I did enjoy listening to the album while it lasted. It's just not engrossing enough for me to return for more listens. There are moments of brilliance, like a piano break in Hollow just before the guitar shred ending. As said before, this is one talented, accomplished band and at times there is a spark that shines bright and makes me go wow. I just wish I had had more of these wow moments.

I am tempted to go with four stars just to reward the excellence in musicianship and production (the recording sounds beautiful). But from a prog perspective, it's not excellent, at least not as a studio album. Would I love hearing this live in a concert? Without a doubt. So, three stars it will have to be but a strong three star effort.

 Counterpoint by CIRCULINE album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.84 | 12 ratings

Circuline Crossover Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars After their thrilling 2015 debut "Return", Circuline wasted little time in returning (excuse the pun) with another chapter in their soon-to-be glorious career, a near future where more prog fans worldwide will hook up to this brilliant prog band. These seasoned musicians are a quite a crew, understanding the liberating musical panorama offered by progressive rock, with so many styles to choose from and incorporate them into something entirely unique yet comfortably prog. At this level of their craft, "Counterpoint" is not in any way an improvement over their debut but rather a consolidation of their musicianship, their unending quest is to entertain and delight by involving always zesty slivers of genius. This time around the core group of the incendiary Andrew Colyer on keys, drum maestro Darren Brannon and the dynamic vocal duo of Billy Spillane and Natalie Browne overcome the departure of Matt Dorsey on bass (though he still guests on guitar here) and guitarist extraordinaire Bill Shannon by incorporating new bassist Paul Ranieri of Shadow Eden as well as inviting a cast of brilliant characters on guitars: namely Doug Ott of Enchant, Alan Shikoh of Glass Hammer, Stan Whitaker (Happy the Man and Oblivion Sun) , the thrilling Ryche Chlanda of Fireballet and Renaissance fame, Randy McStine (The Fringe) and Alek Darson (Fright Pig).

On this release, the band decides to get into fleshing out further instrumentally their compositions, a great idea in lieu of the fact that some pieces on "Return" begged for continuance, the stunning "Soleil Noir" in particular left me hungering for more. There is also a noticeable depth to the sonic palette that thickens the lavish symphonics and highlights the contrasts between softer and harder passages. Case in point, the opener "New Day" blends straight into "Who I Am", forming a mini-suite that combines into nearly 14 minutes of progressive diversity. Conjuring various effects from a NASA website of space sounds, Randy McStine layers five guitar tracks to thicken the sauce while Ranieri does some low end magic on his bass. Dishevelling drum flattery adorns the bliss out space overture to great effect. The second is a classically arranged prog-rock extravaganza, clocking in over 8 minutes and featuring Enchant's Doug Ott on the axe. Nimble piano leads the question initially, blooming into a more typical prog workout, where bombastic riffs and tectonic drumming settle down to rule and govern accordingly. The band considers themselves as 'cinematographic prog', which is actually a correct self-assessment, the dual vocals are immediately impactful, taking the arrangement into storyland, with meaningful lyrical content and expert vocal delivery. The exit guitar solo is a whirlwind of notes and ecstasies.

The thrilling "Forbidden Planet" is a musical tribute to the famous sci-fi classic, featuring the incredible Leslie Nielsen, Roby the Robot and a masterful evil performance by Walter Pidgeon that stands the test of time. Here, the synthesizers carve out another space-rock adventure, a perfect platform for Bill Spillane to exalt on his cosmic microphone, delectable choir work in tow (Natalie does some real cool wailing) and finished up with manic electric guitar work from Alek Darson that sizzles amid the symphonic asteroids.

The grandiloquent epic "Hollow" is a 10 minute romp that will blow the lid off your earphone-dominated head, incorporating multiple passages with mega thrills, truly captivating soloing and jaw-dropping vocalizations. Colyer's piano takes the front stage again, showing off his indisputable talents and reminding me a lot of Eddie Jobson's piano work with Curved Air, Natalie yanking the mike to her lips and beginning her painful lament. The effortless rhythmic work is complex, bruising and extremely clever. 'A call to action, a new distraction' warbles Spillane convincingly, amid a crest of sonic dynamics that elevate the piece to new heights, a contemplative mid-section that skirts the edges of ambient only to let Darson sparkle once again with inventive passages, rekindling the earlier raging fire. A sensational track.

The diminutive but effective "Erosion" adds more soundtrack-like depth, in a more subtle manner, blending electronic sweeps and a sense of crushing gloom. Colyer is having fun being creative with his keys. Changing the pace on a dime and crashing a champagne bottle on its bow, "Nautilus" floats off with a fluid bass guitar that may recall the legendary Mick Karn, wobbly and liquid bass bubbles that set the sail to an underwater adventure to the North Prog pole , slick little nods to Star Trek (yeah, my trusted sonar picked that bleep up), launching depth charge-like bashing from the drums, roiling organ crests, a slippery synth solo, waves of stormy guitars, courtesy of Ryche Chlanda and windswept vocal work of the highest order. The dual voices achieve another level of performance, conclusive and hyper professional. Another total scorcher.

The hard jazz of "Stay" (subtitled Peter Frankenstan) features some dervish pyrotechnics from the manic mind and fingers of Stan Whitaker, a truly Happy Man, there is also a distinct Peter Gabriel vibe (I was stunned to hear recently that Happy the man were supposed to start out as Gabriel's backing band , early in the Genesis man's solo career). The drums are straight out of the Jerry Marotta school of binary cymbal-less pounding, sounding very modern, even futuristic. Natalie sings like there is no tomorrow.

There is an eerie piano intro to "Inception", another movie soundtrackish concoction that has a definite Steve Wilson feel to it, a grandiose and dense, mellotron-laden osmosis of sound and fury, deeply disturbing and rhythmically despondent. The vocal work is once again exemplary, spooky choirs notwithstanding, and as Natalie starts her intense wailing, guitarist Alan Shikoh of Glass Hammer adds some rhythm guitar while new guitarist Beledo peels off a tumultuous guitar pirouette that sets the piece to bed.

Yes the "Summit" is reached with another grandiose finale, a monster track that slams in the final nails in the coffin of doubt about this band's future legacy. Matt Dorsey (Sound of Contact, Kerzner) lays down some dreamy guitar escalades that shuffle between the rhythmic pulse, steered by drummer extraordinaire Brannon doing his best Pierre Moerlen (Gong) imitation. Breezy and airy on the fret board, the arrangement features Andrew on lead vocals, finding free hands to twiddle his synths with obvious trepidation. The mid-section unexpectedly features a dissonant tympani and piano dance that is straight out of a fusion of melody and rhythm. Definitely Downwind and Time is the Key.

Circuline has arrived, time for Progland to embrace them wholeheartedly. Easily one of the very best US bands in recent memory, I look already forward to their next masterpiece.

5 Kiosk tips

 Return by CIRCULINE album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.89 | 17 ratings

Circuline Crossover Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Circuline is a new American band from upstate New York that may just be the next big thing in prog terms, manned (and womanned) by a strong crew of vitality-driven singers and instrumentalists, mostly issued from the now defunct Downing Grey, a prog tribute band that made a name for itself on the live circuit by playing all the classics. In my opinion, US bands have traditionally excelled when stretching the progressive boundaries (Djam Karet, Herd of Instinct, Ovrfwrd, Happy the Man come to mind) even though way too many bands aim for a more AOR Kansas meets Styx style that does not always rock my world. Lately though, Elephants of Scotland, Third Degree and the remarkable Dave Kerzner, among a few others , have been providing a lot of goosebumps with some delightful releases that can rival the very best. Circuline certainly has all the attributes necessary for a long run, led by Julliard- bred Andrew Colyer on an arsenal of animated keyboards, held solidly by a masterful bass and drum tandem (Matt Dorsey is of Sound of Contact , a fabulous Kerzner-led project while Darren Brannon shows both power and dexterity on the kit). Guitars are expertly operated by Bill Shannon, who sizzles throughout. Instrumentally, these musicians can rival anyone anywhere but what matters are the compositions and the vocals. The quality of the two lead singers, Billy Spillane and Natalie Browne are a definite attraction, as they are emotionally sparkling and fluidly interactive, Browne can wail like a banshee at chosen prime moments, while Spillane has a clear and crystalline voice that is most expressive (he also fronts Led Zep tribute band No Quarter).

The music is, for all intended purposes, breathtaking and imaginative, at times bombastic and grandiose, occasionally diving into more obscure sounds that will seem dark and ominous, always propelled by first rate vocal dynamics. "Return" is their rather cleverly titled debut, a relatively short album clocking in at a mere 40 minutes but condensed into a series of highly vivid tracks that simply shine with sonic splendor. At times, very bright, optimistic and sunny, then suddenly brooding and melancholic, the pieces flow together as if a long suite of inter-connected songs that capture ones attention throughout. From the opening title track with its brisk and airy introduction, the ornate piano leads an almost typical Brit-prog melody that gets crowned by a soaring vocal, a ravaged guitar rant shoved along by a somber organ, displaying both playful technique and intense melodicism. The mellotron-driven crescendo is fabulous. Yup these guys certainly have the style down pat.

On the cloudier "Nebulae", the ability to seek out simple but effective sounds really elevate this track into more subtle realms, Colyer fiddling with his synths as Shannon caresses his fret board, a solid binary beat lays the foundation for a sense of spooky doom that is delightful! A slight Goblin influence, perhaps? The set list flow is electrified further by the manic and obsessive riff that opens up "Stereotypes", blooming into a bombastic explosion that hits all the nodes perfectly, the vocals purely divine and airy, the lyrics contemplative and engaging, all adorned by great keyboard work from Andrew. Browne starts wailing, a vocal style that always seems to make my knees wobble when done as perfectly as this. The intricate guitar solo is perfection personified, an impression of faultlessly placed little mosaic tiles as the bass rumbles and exalts into a demented finale.

The all too brief "Soleil Noir" is a true highlight, a nervy slap bass furthering its cause, slathered by a whistling synth sortie that defies the skies, topped off by great binary thumping from Mr. Brannon, I just wish this track would have developed further. But it does lead into a 'piece de resistance', a 7 and a half minute mini-epic that perhaps best encapsulates the essence of this incredible band, "One Wish" is funneled by a magical piano riff, hypnotically conceived to instill peaceful obedience, as the glorious vocal (Brown can sing like the wind) soars over the arrangement, contemplative piano emoting in contrast to the brutal guitar slashes, until the latter just takes over a la Alex Lifeson and slams into overdrive. Oh yeah! The symbiotic interplay between Shannon and Colyer with Dorsey rumbling underneath and Brannon bashing is just plain colossal. A fantastic track that deserves to be heard by prog fans worldwide.

This is followed by the delicate beauty of "Imperfect", a keyboard interlude that seeks out a very classic British prog expanse, a universe of tinkling piano that hints at classic Eddie Jobson, Hackett-ish guitar warbles and warm electronic wallpaper in the background. Gorgeous! Back to reality with the rather gruesome "Fallout Shelter", a moody instrumental insertion into gloomier regions , a sense of asphyxiation and desolation that is immediately apparent from the spacey and cymbal-heavy opening notes, this is Circuline at their most experimental and it works just fine. Shannon does some lewd things to his guitar, making it moan and howl with a combination of pleasure and pain that is quite disturbing.

Another 7 and a half minute piece put this delight to bed, "Science Revealed" focuses on the amazing vocals that both Brown and Spillane provide, here in clear duet form, a rather rare attempt in prog (it's hard enough to find one good vocalist , let alone two!). Shannon's guitar does some agonizing Holdsworthian somersaults that defy gravity and just might make your ears bleed! The second section actually has some unforeseen jazz leanings, where guitar, piano and voice forage into a fine slow groove, the vocal-led melody soaring high into the atmosphere, attempting to reach divinity. It does!

A hugely entertaining debut from a band that certainly has set its sights on becoming a prog staple, a thoroughly enjoyable recording that touches many emotional buttons while staying true to their creative yearnings. I am truly impressed and I can't wait for their next one to grace my collection.

4.5 arrivals

Thanks to Roland113 for the artist addition.

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