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Circulus - Clocks Are Like People CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

3.80 | 22 ratings

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Prog-Folk Team
4 stars Superficially structured like the CIRCULUS debut, "Clocks are Like People" is a collection of 9 very English folk rock tracks of which the first three are all superb, and the last is admirably ambitious if not entirely successful. Again, it's the in-between parts where the band tends to slip in nondescript or seemingly incomplete ideas, choruses repeating song titles like mantras assigned to nobody, almost as if they hope that inspiration will be imparted magically down the line. By a pixie or a dragon perhaps?

Well, back to the start then. "Dragon's Dance" kicks off with brooding a cappella before more spirited flutes, vocals, and bass accompany this short but accomplished number, that even includes a sweet crumhorn solo. In general, the bass, flutes and synths dominate this album musically, juxtaposing ancient stateliness and the gurgling of industry with surprising success. "Song of Our Despair" is even better, with gentle electric guitar then flute and voice. A few organ washes color the powerful bluesy introduction to the rather disappointing chorus, which is a bit of a recurring theme, as is my complaint about it. Still, some of the synth work here is so imaginative and unnerving that it succeeds in spite of itself. The sheer verve of the electronics overload in such foreign settings is admirable, like a child who flouts authority so creatively one is loathe to criticize. Yes they are often over the top but never irritating. The peak is next, the mystical "Willow Tree", with its brooding verses and emotional vocal performance by Michael Tyack, fat bass lines from George Parfitt, and a swirling keyboard oriented climax. It transcends the subgenres to which it purportedly belongs, like a rock band that discovered Wicca and cast this piece as its first spell.

Unfortunately, "Wherever She Goes" sounds like that rarest of songs, a weak mid period CLANNAD number, right down to Lo Polidoro's vocals, and "Velocity Races" is utterly lacking in spirit. "To the Fields" is also low on energy but is far more wistful and succinct, with Hackett-like acoustic guitar and flute, combined male and female vocals that are almost whispered, and an unhurried melody.

The album closer is the most psychedelic, and atypical for the group, dominated by an addictive rhythm and vocals that sound as though piped through an old CB radio. Through fits and starts the band conveys the dubious nature of reality, rendered more tenuous by whatever they are smoking or otherwise consuming. I've bought in just a little more this time around, and, while this isn't materially better than "The Lick on the Tip", I'm going to round up this time because I'm probably only right twice a day, and that moment is now.

kenethlevine | 4/5 |


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