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Vienna Circle - Silhouette Moon CD (album) cover

SILHOUETTE MOON

Vienna Circle

 

Neo-Prog

3.97 | 167 ratings

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tszirmay
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Vienna Circle's exquisite debut has a new release to further their claim to fame, providing more stunning melodies and daring to go beyond. I anointed 'White Clouds", their opening studio foray with deserved adulation, as I was taken by both their ultra-melodic style and the topic of the atrocity of war, a 'going on 40 year' old personal study. The epic disc runs the gamut of emotions, both the positive and the negative, taking the human condition's musical analysis one step further.

This sumptuously packaged sophomore recording having both a DVD and the CD wrapped in suave cover art and booklet. A very sweet and typically English melody "Strangers"starts off the effort, the voice up front and center with piano and orchestrations, something in the water I guess and just a brief intro for the equally short "Envy", owner of a melody carved out of heaven, fluttery 'aaah' choir and the oblique axe solo are simply jaw-dropping, loaded with unrestrained emotion and passion.

This leads to the next step, the 4 part "Dreams Presage" which alternates a baroque opener, a surly instrumental part that has the guitar fulminating furiously and a serene sax blows its misericord, interspaced by an eerily Phideaux-like main rhyme straight out of his recent "Doomsday Afternoon", a slow piano-led build up all, flourishing bass and jangly guitar all leading to an expected apotheosis which first arrives in the form of a clarinet-driven melody united with another guitar refrain and another Xavier line, finally succumbing to one of the most melancholic orgasm choruses one can ever hope for. The "? Waiting for a love song?" repetition will drop you to your knees in abject submission! The shift is seamless and relentless, recounting the existentialist crisis eloquently described in their anti-war debut album. This piece alone warrants a purchase, a terrific 13 minute+ opus of impeccable construction and sublime delivery. The bluesy "Scarlet Dance" just serves as a culmination of the preceding extravaganza, a bolder and wah-wah guitar drenched upgrade on the preceding melody, just expressed with more bite and resentment. The singing, the wobbly synth and the overall mood are just crushingly amazing. What a quartet of tunes, phew!

Unfortunately, "Broken Wings" does not seem to excite quite like as much, Paul Davis has a pleasant enough voice but here it's just a little wimpy and flat on this song for my tastes and though Jess Shute's colored flute pies a few pipers, the track just plods along somehow unhinged. I tried multiple revisits but outside of the solid instrumental section that rages appropriately, I can only concur with my initial reaction to the song. The strings blasts adds depth but its shallow water anyway. This could have been so much better if it would have spent a bit more time in the oven. Then you have a stellar "Ballad of Night" which again tours the entire periphery of styles, from spacey, to ultra-romantic and then even a psychedelic explosion. Paul Davis has, once you get used to his peculiar high-pitched voice nearing James Warren of the Korgis territory, a quite expressive vehicle to express his angst, and a bit like Steve Wilson, he can also play a cool guitar. Brother Jack Davis tortures the bass strings and the whole piece just beckons the listener into some kaleidoscope world. There is an overt Beatles/Blackfield/Squeeze feel that is uncanny and attractive. Paul really howls, proving that he needs to push the 'lungular' envelope to be credible. The sax and the synth exchange some slippery notes and the guitar solo is fiery and incandescent. A terrific song again.

"Sea" is a dreamier reflection of deep melancholia, a short and fluctuating that sounds close to Like Wendy, a Dutch band that vanished in 2005. Moody and introspective, it has a cool guitar sortie as well. "Eternity" is quite brief as well under 3 minutes and is fueled by massive orchestrations above anything else, all instrumental with a slight country guitar twang feel amid the huge symphonic swirls. It conveys the title rather well. Things get quite Elizabethan on the Beatlesque "Together" with its McCartney piano and Harrison guitar twang and you can hear the hippy-trippy flowery chorus "Soon as it rains?" refresh the piece as if morning dew droplets wash away the night dust. More syrupy orchestra adorns the arrangement, as if George Martin was sitting at the board. Very English pomp rock, wot!

"Departure" finalizes the disc on a lofty note, a brooding goodbye to a most pleasant voyage, dreams still intact, perhaps even more vibrant than ever, the orchestra really taking over now , as the curtain slowly drops to the stage floor and the lights slowly return to their full glow.

Still hooked on the more conceptual "White Clouds" though, a few more spins throughs and Silhouette Moon will perhaps catch up. Melodic, poignant prog this is!

4 Shadow planets

tszirmay | 4/5 |

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