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A.C.T - Circus Pandemonium CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

3.88 | 198 ratings

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Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A 'return to form' effort that's worth enjoying ...

As I mentioned earlier in my previous writing that I am quite happy with recent developments in prog scene as many bands produce excellent albums. In fact it confuses me which one I should spin as so many excellent happenings in relation to prog. For this reason, I do not want to expand my listening horizon to other music but prog. Why? No time man! There are so many good album from many musicians / bands like IQ, Transatlantic, Steven Wilson, Steve Hackett, Curved Air, The Flower Kings to mention some of them. And now I am writing my view on another excellent album by Sweden prog group called themselves as A.C.T. Prog music is really nice and gives me full of joy in life. Prog music motivates me to create innovative things in my professional life as strategy & change management consultant. In fact, I play prog music from my MacBook when I facilitate workshops with my clients. If I am lucky sometime I got one or some of the participants asked me what music that I play. Or ...sometimes they came to me and say: "Hey are a prog fan?" YUP! Of course I am; and I am proud being a prog fan!!! There is no other music as captivating a PROG - full stop!

I have a strong rationale why I love prog music very much. The proof is quite easy: get the CD of this Circus Pandemonium and spin it. Taste the music with open mind and conclude: what type of music this gentlemen from Sweden play through this album? Most of them will not be able to categorize under what basket this album is. Yes, there is a bit of rock, a bit of pop, a bit of metal and mix of them. While people like us easily say: This is PROG man! In one of reviews I did for the bad, I mentioned that they play a "cabaret rock" music. A term that is not usual in any music critics industry, I think ...

And talking about A.C.T you may want to browse around this site that I have reviewed all of their previous four albums with various rating depending upon how I feel and I think about the music. In a nutshell, after eight years of silent since their weak "Silence" album released in 2006, this new album remarks the "return to form" spirit as musically this one is closer to their best album ever "The Last Epic" released before "Silence". Even though I do not follow the band's activities during its silent or vacuum period of eight years but I always follow their release and write a review for it.

The album kicks off with an ambient nuance that sounds like silence mode just before a show - a circus show. And it blasts off with an energetic music through its second track The End (5:56). The tempo is upbeat and you may consider this as a straight rock kind of style but it surprises me when it suddenly break with powerful vocal which brings the music into its full power. I find a full sense of joy with this track and the vocal harmonies are truly topnotch, backed with excellent music riffs. There is also orchestration as well through the passage of the track. What then surprises me is the break where it seems like audience giving applaud to the circus act. It's really an innovative break! I would say this track is a masterpiece as it's flawless in terms of composition and performance. At the end of the track there is a powerful riffs combined beautifully with orchestrated arrangements and ...again ..another break with people's laugh giving applause.

The third track Everything's Falling (4:55) is still with its high energy tempo, even faster than the previous one. I love the riffs produced through its transition segments as well as jaw- dropping drumwork. The basslines are great and in some segments produce memorable riffs. The interlude part demonstrating short solo of keyboard combined with powerful basslines is really excellent - followed by powerful vocal line. Manager's Wish (5:54) is the next track with still an energetic style combined with some break with slow tempo combined with vocal line. This time it seems like there is a communication between the Manager and its circus players. A Truly Gifted Man (6:44) is different in style with nice piano fills. The music is kind of combined pop rock and reggae rhythm section. Presentation (1:03) is basically a break that demonstrates a dialogue followed with fast tempo and unique music of Look At The Freak (1:13). The follow-ups are short tracks with duration of 1 to 2 minutes :Argument (1:06), Confrontation (1:12), A Mother's Love (2:37), The Funniest Man Alive (3:46) depicting various stages of the circus story. I like Confrontation as it's quite complex and played neatly by the band which then flows into mellow part o Mother's Love. Really nice! And there is a bonus track under Japanese edition titled as Scared (4:43). The last two concluding tracks are also excellent: Lady In White (4:40) and Freak Of Nature (5:59). Lady In White has different style compared to other tracks.

Overall this is an excellent album that scores about 4.5 stars. It's beautifully composed and neatly performed by the band. The composition has good melody, superb harmonies on vocal its backing voices as well as the combined work of instruments used plus its orchestration, may tempo and style changes with relatively complex arrangements. The album has a solid structural integrity from start to end of album despite many breaks in the middle of the album - but that makes it richer. I highly recommend this and definitely it's much better than its predecessor released eight years ago. Happy that the band is still alive. Keep on proggin' ...!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Gatot | 4/5 |


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