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Circus - Movin' On CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

4.19 | 124 ratings

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4 stars Within the first two minutes of this engrossing album, Circus lays down its platform pretty convincingly. The Bandsman has a rapid fire mix of strong, fast flute lines, potent percussion, jerky (and mildy accented) vocals, the occassional jazzy diversion and some rather personable saxophone playing. Believe me this album turns out to be full of it.

I had never heard a Swiss prog band before hearing this album and I was impressed enough to give it three consecutive spins. I'm still not sure if the style of Circus (a latter day outfit whose debut album came out in 1976) is truly representative of a scene that spawned Mainhorse (including that brilliant gent Patrick Moraz) and Analogy, but this is an entertaining band to listen to. (Incidentally, this group should not be confused with the similarly-named English outfit that featured reed-man Mel Collins.)

There aren't any weak songs among the five pieces here although the moody Laughter Lane, with its heady mix of vibraphone, delicate acoustic guitar playing and Marco Celetti's distinctive bass-work that calls to mind the playing of Wishbone Ash's Martin Turner, is probably my favourite of the shorter songs. Loveless Time is another fascinating track that runs through a range of moods within a relatively short period of time. One strength that Circus has that not every progressive band enjoys is that their music always manages to sound natural ... in other words there are no points where you feel that a change in style or tempo of a particular song was done just to make it complicated.

The fourth piece Dawn is also a quality cut, although at one point I felt convinced that Circus were just a little too much under the influence of Lizard-era King Crimson (perhaps they should have called this group Cirkus, eh?) ... the avant-garde soundscapes, chromatic keyboard runs, dominant saxophone passages, vibrant percussion are all quintessential Tippett/Haskell era King Crimson.

The 22 minute title track makes up more than half the album's running time and it's a real winner as far as I'm concerned. Despite being the lengthiest piece here, it's got the most energy packed in it. Starting in "fusiony" mode with pacey drums under-pinning a New Age flute solo it gradually moves into a passage dominated by modern (for 1977) synth sounds ... at the 4 minute mark there is a vocal harmony section Yes would have been pleased with, (even if the bass does ocassionally reveal that disco was a powerful presence at the time this album was made!) ... the actual "song" part starts around the 9 minute mark and isn't that memorable, although I think the biting guitar fills are excellent ... I was quite charmed by the mellow ambient vocal segment that started at around the 13 minute mark ... and when at the 15 minute mark the bass solo took off underneath the flute lead I was fully won over ... the outro that announces itself at the 19 minute mark is every bit as climatic and exciting as one could expect.

Probably the worst thing about this album is its timing. Coming out, as it did in 1977, when progressive rock was on the retreat, it stood very little chance of ensuring that its "parents" got a chance to make much headway, and sure enough Circus seems to have been lost in the mists of time. It would only be a slight exaggeration to say that this is one of those must-hear great "lost" albums, and although you'll be able to hear a few other bands like King Crimson, Van Der Graaf Generator and Yes at various times during this record, Circus has a distinctly robust character of its own. ... 76% on the MPV scale

Trotsky | 4/5 |


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