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CIRRUS BAY

Neo-Prog • United States


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Cirrus Bay biography
Founded in Buckley, Washington, USA in 2001

US outfit CIRRUS BAY started out as an acoustic duo back in 2001, consisting of Bill Gillham on guitar and Sharra Gillham (now Sharra Acle) on vocals. They performed Bill's compositions live in coffee and sandwich shops, acoustic efforts with sophisticated compositional structures underneath a melodic palette catering to a more mainstream-oriented musical taste.

The duo were, at some point in time, approached by Mark Blasco. He's a drummer and engineer, and besides being fascinated by the duo's musical ventures he also wanted to know if they would like to record their music, offering his services as a drummer if so would be the case.

And while Cirrus Bay still is represented by a duo performing acoustic music, now consisting of Bill and Anisha Gillham, it has also evolved into a band project, at least as far as CD releases are concerned. And in the latter case the music has become much more embellished, closer to the muscial territories explored by acts such as Genesis and Spock's Beard.

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CIRRUS BAY discography


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

2.84 | 26 ratings
The Slipping Of A Day
2008
3.75 | 64 ratings
A Step Into Elsewhere
2009
3.59 | 69 ratings
Whimsical Weather
2012
3.60 | 66 ratings
The Search For Joy
2014
3.87 | 100 ratings
Places Unseen
2016
3.68 | 36 ratings
The Art Of Vanishing
2019

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

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CIRRUS BAY Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Art Of Vanishing by CIRRUS BAY album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.68 | 36 ratings

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The Art Of Vanishing
Cirrus Bay Neo-Prog

Review by snelling

4 stars Another solid effort from Cirrus Bay, who changes somewhat with each release, but also retains similar elements, notably strong melody and a love for chord and key changes, sometimes recalling Tony Banks. This is probably less 'proggy' but also more beautiful than 'Places Unseen'. The songs breathe a bit more and sound more organic, in part due to much tasteful use of sax, piano and acoustic guitar amid the keyboards and electric guitars. There is a wistful, late summer feel to much of the album, and never more apparent than in 'Sooke Harbour', which utilizes recorder and sax as unlikely co-lead instruments over piano, keys and 12-string guitar. This is the most beautiful piece of music I've heard all year, not incredibly complex, but a very lovely instrumental. 'The Vanishing Place' and 'Unexpected Wonder' are other favorites, the most complex and overtly 'proggy'. The second half is much more progressive sounding, with the exception of 'The Dictator', a simpler track but with a good melody and great vocals, along with some killer Banks-like? chords at the end. As usual, there seems to be a lot to delve into, and a lot of variation, with Tai Shan providing really beautiful vocals, with original member Sharra Acle providing backing vocals and harmonies, and they really sound nice together in 'A Blossom of Hills'.

The 2 cd only bonus tracks are mostly acoustic, reminding me a little of Anthony Phillips. 'Falling Leaves' is a vocal track with 12-string guitars, bass and piano. Bill sings in this one, not bad, but I'm glad it's only one song. Definitely a bit of an Ant Phillips vibe here. 'Medley for Solo Piano' is 12-minutes of solo piano, and doesn't sound as professionally recorded, but there are beautiful moments. Again, reminding of Ant Phillips. This is my breakdown of tracks:

A Blossom of Hills - **** Undiscovered Isle - *** A Garment of Clouds - ***** The North Country - **** Sooke Harbour - ***** Eden - *** Unexpected Wonder - ***** Lost and Profound - **** The Dictator - **** The Vanishing Place - ***** Falling Leaves - *** Medley for Solo Piano - ****

 The Art Of Vanishing by CIRRUS BAY album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.68 | 36 ratings

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The Art Of Vanishing
Cirrus Bay Neo-Prog

Review by Briaz50000

4 stars The progressive rock band Cirrus Bay have been around since 2008 when they released their first commercial album entitled The Slipping of a Day. I was fortunate enough to be a part of that project since I have known and been friends with Front man Bill Gillham for over 35 years. Bill and I have collaborated on music over the years. So here we are in 2019 and Cirrus Bay has released their 6th commercial album entitled The Art of Vanishing. First of all the CD artwork looks great! Cirrus Bay has always had nice covers for their albums. This is an album which I will need to listen to several times I believe for it to grow on me.

From the first listen that I have had it doesn't surpass their last album from 2016 which was Places Unseen. That album surprised me in many ways with it's new direction it took. That isn't to say that The Art of Vanishing is a bad album. Cirrus Bay over the years has had several female singers. The current one Tai Shan has a wonderful voice and was the lead singer on the previous work. She plays a big part in the success of many of the tracks on this new album. The first long track on the album is entitled Blossom of Hills. It is perhaps my favorite track on the album after the first listen. Cirrus Bay is a bit like Genesis, Renaissance, and lately a bit of the late Swedish prog musician Bo Hansson. A Garment of Clouds is also very nicely done. The lyrics of the song paint a portrait! The next track that I liked was The North Country. This song like on their previous album had a nod to Bo Hansson. There it was a song entitled Horseback to Hanssonland which blew me away. The new song also captures the feel of the late Bo Hansson for the most part. The second half of the album has a track that I enjoyed right away! It was entitled The Dictator! The song might be suggestive of our political environment these days. Its well done though!

The new album consists of well over an hour of music including bonus tracks which are not available unless you purchase the CD. My only disappointment if you can call it that was the album for me at least didn't have the energy, music hooks or new direction feel as the last one did. On the bonus tracks I would have liked to have seen a song Cirrus Bay did for their first 2008 album. It is entitled Starlings In the Sand and was not included on their first effort due to time constraints on the CD. I am hoping it is included in a future disc sometime. This album though is a must if you are a progressive rock enthusiast and a follower of Cirrus Bay's works. :)

 The Art Of Vanishing by CIRRUS BAY album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.68 | 36 ratings

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The Art Of Vanishing
Cirrus Bay Neo-Prog

Review by brotherjohn

5 stars Bill Gillham has developed into one of the better composers/writers out there, having a penchant for beautiful melodies that sometimes will start in one key and end in another. Brian Wilson toyed with this at times. Dave Stewart was a master of it, and of course Tony Banks was a fan of this sort of composition. Banksian type chord progressions are heard on the new Cirrus Bay album, but in different settings. The music is very outdoorsy, and more acoustic and organic than previous albums. Of course, I never want to review a Cirrus Bay album too quickly, given their talent for melodic subtleties which are rife throughout the different moods and styles that wrap up into this coherent whole.

The album starts with 'A Blossom of Hills', a pastoral type intro, blending 12-string guitars which lay the foundation for a nice melody, sung richly by Tai. I love the Anthony Phillips-like crossfades in this track, adding to the pastoral mood which is later broken by a burst of guitar over energetic rhythms. The track gets quite glorious toward the end. The next track, 'Undiscovered Isle' is an acoustic guitar solo, pleasant but nothing special. But the next, 'A Garment of Clouds' is a strong candidate for the prettiest song they've ever done, still with fairly unconventional chord changes and poignant, wistful lyrics, matching the mood of the song. Musically it reminds me of a cross between Renaissance and a Genesis track like ''Time Table' or 'Heathaze'. Something like that. The next track, 'The North Country' is another strong nod to Bo Hansson, something they did on their previous album. This one has a stronger mood for me, and like Bo's music, I envision driving across a cloudy countryside when I hear this. 'Sooke Harbour' is a lovely instrumental, led by recorder of all things, and sax over 12-string guitars, piano and organ. A sense of longing in this one, hard to describe. One of my favorites. 'Eden' is a breezy upbeat song, not too far removed from 'Boats' from 'Places Unseen', followed by 'Unexpected Wonder', another instrumental which, while being quite complex, is also chock full of rich melodies. I love the way the music changes throughout this track while flowing together seamlessly. This one reminds me some of Deluge Grander. The next one is intriguing. 'Lost and Profound' is a piano and sax duet that sounds almost classical, beautiful in an unconventional way but I can't quite place the influence. Philip Glass? Tony Banks? Kerry Minnear? Perhaps just a smidgeon of all three, I don't know, but it also feels a touch like their earlier piece 'The Secret Country'. Next they break into a proper song, 'The Dictator', which sounds a bit like the Beatles and a bit like Tony Banks to me. Almost radio friendly, but in a good way. Great build up at the end. Great vocals here, and intriguing lyrics. Finally, 'The Vanishing Place' rounds things out as the most proggy track on the album, full of twists and turns, time-signature changes, majestic passages, and repeating melodies. A good contender for the best track in their entire catalog. I'm giving this a solid 4.5 at least. The music is warm, and unusually well written and executed. I may edit this review once the cd with bonus tracks becomes available, depending on the quality of the bonus tracks. But this was a very nice surprise and there is much detail here, I find myself listening again and again, finding new things to appreciate with each listen.

 The Art Of Vanishing by CIRRUS BAY album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.68 | 36 ratings

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The Art Of Vanishing
Cirrus Bay Neo-Prog

Review by TCat
Special Collaborator Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team

3 stars The band Cirrus Bay started out in 2001 as an acoustic duo that played coffee houses. Since then, they have evolved to a full- blown Neo-prog.. Since 2008 to the present day, they have released 6 albums, their 6th album being called "The Art of Vanishing" released in June of 2019. Currently, the band line-up consists of founder Bill Gillham and Mark Blasco, who both play most of the instruments and provide backing vocals. On this album, Tai Shan provides the lead vocals and Sharra Acie sings backup vocals. The album consists of 11 tracks, 2 of which are just over 10 minutes which bookend the album, with the entire album's duration being over 54 minutes.

"A Blossom of Hills" begins with some nice acoustic work which is soon joined by some very lovely vocals, starting with Tai alone, and then soon with harmonization. After 2 minutes, the tempo moves a lot faster and the entire band plays, but this strangely fades out rather quickly and the acoustic sound returns. The music gets a bit atmospheric, and then suddenly goes up tempo again without any warning and the guitar improvises off of a riff. This is followed by a synth solo, the rhythm breaks, then returns with vocals. This time the tempo remains upbeat for a while, but the first half of the track seemed quite choppy and poorly executed, but improves in the 2nd half. Everything calms again around the 7 minute mark and the interchanging slow to fast tempo pattern continues through the track.

"Undiscovered Isle" is a nice, peaceful acoustic instrumental track. "A Garment of Clouds" begins immediately with the full band and the vocalist coming in early. The music is simple and easy to listen to, the singing it lovely, but everything else moves ahead in a standard beat. "The North Country" is another instrumental that follows a solider beat with the organ taking the lead and with the overall sound remaining pretty mellow. After two minutes, the beat and sound gets a little heavier and the organ and guitar echo each other pretty much note for note. In the last minute, it returns to the original sound. "Sooke Harbour" goes for a more pastoral feel with acoustic guitar and a recorder (later joined by sax) and a soft, moderate rhythm which approaches a folk-ish vibe. "Eden" is another straightforward sounding track with a smooth, moderate and rolling feel, a rollicking synth solo appears in the instrumental break, followed by wordless vocals and then a short guitar section before returning to the main vocal melody.

"Unexpected Wonder" is a bit longer nearing the 7 minute mark. The rhythm is a bit trickier here. There is some nice sax supported by vibes and other keys with some guitar showing through. The moderate feel suddenly stops and then everything starts again with a more uptempo feel, again chopped and slightly clumsy like in the first track. Sometimes the music moves from one section to another quite smoothly, but other times, it seems like it gets cut off. But the track is more progressive like the first track, just not always well executed, or edited. Overall, however, the music remains mellow and safe. "Lost and Profound" returns to the shorter track format. It is soft and without rhythm with a piano backing up the sax, with a classical feel to it, except for the sax which might remind you of bad new age music. Kenny G anyone? "The Dictator" brings back the more standard, soft-rock sound, but at least features the lovely singing.

"The Vanishing Place" is the closing track, and the other 10 minute song. The track begins with solo piano in a minor key. Soon a sax plays along and then the band stumbles in. Vocals begin shortly after. As is the case with the other two longer tracks, this one is more progressive, but still retains the soft rock sound that pretty much continues through the entire album. The song pretty much stays the same all the way through, however, offering no real highpoints or surprises.

This music would be recommended to those that like their music on the soft side, with hints of folk tendencies throughout. There are progressive tracks, usually the longer ones with the many shorter tracks being more straightforward. However, the music isn't very challenging and is in a soft-rock style. The more progressive sections are somewhat clumsy and not very well edited with fade outs or cut offs between sections. The music isn't bad though, but nothing really stands out on the album either. The tracks stay quite safe sounding, but at least the vocalist is good, so that helps. 3 stars.

 Places Unseen by CIRRUS BAY album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.87 | 100 ratings

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Places Unseen
Cirrus Bay Neo-Prog

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Although labeled as neo prog, Cirrus Bay nowadays plays truly symphonic prog music. Somehow I missed their last two albums, but Places Unseen is surely their very best. It seems that the band finally came of age, songwriting wise: the music here is very well written, inspired and solid. They were always fantastic musicians and had a very good singer, but now they did find their own sound, even if the Renaissance influences are still quite overwhelming. This is not a demerit: the tunes are original and much more jazzy than 70Žs Renaissance, although the classical music and folk references are present too. New singer Tai Shan has a marvelous voice that is simply perfect for this music: brilliant, ethereal, warm and soulful. As good as the previous vocalist was, Shan is definitely on another level entirely and graces the album seamlessly.

Another point that impressed me is the skillful duo of founding members Bill Gilham ( keyboards, electric and acoustic guitars, mandolin, recorder, auto-harp, additional backing vocals) and Mark Blasco ( drums, bass guitar, backing vocals, additional keyboards and electric guitar). Not only they play almost all the instruments (it seems that the only other musicians is Brendan Buss on Flute and Sax), but they also play everything very well. Considering the complexity of several parts of the album, with long instrumental breaks and solos this is no small feat. The tracks are all excellent, with no fillers to be found anywhere. There are many acoustic and electric segments, with the pastoral side being the most noticeable, but the music here is surprisingly eclectic and varied. A crystal clear production and very well balanced mixing helped to bring the best of the all involved. A kind of album that is better appreciated as a whole: like me, youŽll probably find yourself longing to listen to it from start to finish, rather than picking up specific songs. And the 55+ minutes of music will only sound too short.

As with the latest albums by Jadis, Big Big Train and Kaipa DaCapo, Places Unseen is among the best prog releases of 2016. A truly remarkable album that I place dearly in my symphonic heart. Highly recommended!

Rating: 4,5 stars.

 Places Unseen by CIRRUS BAY album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.87 | 100 ratings

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Places Unseen
Cirrus Bay Neo-Prog

Review by Kingsnake

4 stars Wonderfully, romantic and pastoral music, wich reminds the listener immediately of Renaissance.

The music mostly based upon piano and acoustic guitars augmented by drums, synths, electric guitar, flute and saxophone. Singer Tai Shan is really a gifted vocalist, wich (as said) resembles Annie Haslam (Renaissance).

The music is symphonic rock as we knew it in the seventies; comparisons to Caravan, Genesis, Renaissance, Camel are easily made. The music and vocals really makes the listener dream about lush landscapes and warm summer days. The overall feel is sweet, kind, naive, dreamy and intellectual. When the soloing takes place, you know this is progressive rock, but the soft parts keeps you dreaming and relaxing.

I haven't heard a modern release of this high standard in a long, long time. Really recommended to Renaissance-fans, but any progressive rock fan should try this one out.

 Places Unseen by CIRRUS BAY album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.87 | 100 ratings

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Places Unseen
Cirrus Bay Neo-Prog

Review by snelling

5 stars Beautiful pure symphonic prog, with some departures from previous albums. As stated by other reviewers, "Places Unseen" offers much in the way of instrumental music, notably in the lengthy "First Departure" and "Second Departure", aside from some wordless voicings by newcomer Tai Shan. These two pieces are clearly in the Genesis/Hackett/Anthony Phillips vein, with both lively and slow sections, impressive solos and some very strong melodies, somewhat in the vein of previous Cirrus Bay albums, but only somewhat, as "Places Unseen" is more proggy and varied than previous albums, even more so in the other instrumentals, "Dimension 7" which breaks new ground, progressive in the true sense of the word, and "Horseback to Hanssonland", which, yes, does recall Bo Hansson, albeit a bit more dramatic. Brendan Buss' sax and flute work here contribute well to this feel. Elsewhere, the title track and the similar "The Sheltering Cove" recall a mix of Renaissance, Genesis and Caravan, the latter having an especially playful flute and piano interaction during the lengthy instrumental portion. Finally, "Songs Unheard" and "Boats" provide the contrast in being more song oriented, and arguably the only 2 tracks that resemble their previous album, "The Search For Joy". A solid 4.5 or more, rounded up, definitely one of my favorites of the last couple years
 The Search For Joy by CIRRUS BAY album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.60 | 66 ratings

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The Search For Joy
Cirrus Bay Neo-Prog

Review by Kingsnake

4 stars This is great suprise.

I've been playing this record for the last few weeks, as a warm up to their new album. The music reminds me of 70's symphonic rock. I find it weird that their music is in the neo-prog section. It doesn't sound as Marillion or Saga or IQ at all.

The music is pastoral and has lots of acoustic moments. Also the female vocals remind me of Renaissance. This is a very good album, although the female vocals are not the best I've heard. It's nowhere near Heart or Renaissance.

As said, the music is very 70's. The production aswell. The guitar is very Steve Howe. The keyboards very Rick Wakeman and the vocals remind of Renaissance. Well that's what this band sound like. The follow up is a better, because the vocals are better

 Places Unseen by CIRRUS BAY album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.87 | 100 ratings

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Places Unseen
Cirrus Bay Neo-Prog

Review by Briaz58

5 stars I received a copy of the latest Cirrus Bay album entitled Places Unseen! It is their 5th venture into the commercial world of music! I will say right up front.....this is my favorite Cirrus Bay effort to date. It is an album that will find a place in your CD player. Cirrus Bay has crafted and polished their progressive sound with Places Unseen. They have a new female singer (Tai Shan) that has a beautiful voice and can bring out the feelings to the music. This album has elements of Genesis, ELP, Bo Hansson, Renaissance and for me even a bit of Jade Warrior to it. While all the tracks on the album are well done....there are some tracks which stand out for me. The first one is First Departure....it is something that I have never heard Cirrus Bay do and they do it well here. It is a progressive rock instrumental track which is one of the best things they have done. It is a strong track that is dynamic and flowing. The second track of note for me is Horseback To Hanssonland.......it is a great tribute to the late Swedish progressive rock musician Bo Hansson. I am sure he would have been pleased with Cirrus Bay's recognition of him. The next song which caught my attention was Boats......Tai Shan sings this song with great feeling and it's very nicely done. Finally the instrumental Second Departure also will send your CD player into repeated listening's. Cirrus Bay has found the right chemistry and formula for this album which will please any progressive rock fan...........Great job.......to Bill Gillham and the Cirrus Bay group!
 Places Unseen by CIRRUS BAY album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.87 | 100 ratings

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Places Unseen
Cirrus Bay Neo-Prog

Review by brotherjohn

5 stars I rarely give an album 5 stars. And in fact, this is the only Cirrus Bay album that I feel is worth the rating. But this album hits all the sweet spots for me. I like the fact that it is about 2/3 instrumental (previously most all my favorite moments of theirs were the instrumental sections). But new vocalist Tai Shan has such a beautiful voice that I actually enjoy the vocal sections just as much. The writing is top notch on this album. The music is a perfect blend of beautiful and complex, and the playing also seems better on this album than previous albums. My favorite is clearly the album's finale, "Second Departure". Wow what a beautiful piece of music. And "Horseback to Hanssonland" is a wonderful tribute to Bo Hansson, capturing the mood of his music very well. "The Sheltering Cove" and the title track are also lovely. The cover artwork is also outstanding, a perfect fit. I can tell this will also be a grower, as usual.
Thanks to windhawk for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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