Valley of the Windmill is the latest release from veteran prog outfit CIRCA, who are comprised of current Yes member Billy Sherwood (vocals, guitar), original Yes keyboard player Tony Kaye, bassist Rick Tierney, and drummer Scott Connor. Finding themselves, not surprisingly, on Frontiers Records, home to Sherwood's main band as well, CIRCA now seem poised to bring their form of melodic progressive rock to the masses. Valley of the Windmill contains just four lengthy tracks, and quite honestly, there's a hell of a lot more classic prog sounds here than on any recent Yes release.
Opening cut "Silent Resolve" tips the scales at nearly 15-minutes long, and Sherwood's near Peter Nicholls/Peter Gabriel-ish vocal tones fit perfectly alongside Kaye's lush Hammond organ and synths, with snaky electric & acoustic guitars darting in and about among the tight rhythms and symphonic arrangements. Playing alongside Steve Howe certainly seems to have rubbed off on Sherwood, as he contributes some stellar lead guitar work here. "Empire Over" has a certain Genesis/IQ feel to it, as moody atmosphere collides with symphonic keyboard waves and searing guitar, while the title track brings out the acoustic guitars & percussion for more of a pastoral feel, completed by layers of Sherwood lead & backing vocals. The closing epic "Our Place Under the Sun" pushes the 19-minute barrier, a slightly moody prog adventure that doesn't skimp on the catchy melodies but still contains plenty of musical fireworks and textures, Sherwood & Kaye especially putting on a clinic throughout but Tierney also delivering some meaty bass lines.
Most of the past CIRCA releases have been quite solid overall, but Valley of the Windmill just seems to be on another level to these ears. Those who have thrilled to the vintage prog sounds permeating the new Anderson/Stolt release will find much to love here as well. Highly recommended!
See more about this release on our recent YouTube show!
1) Silent Resolve
2) Empire Over
3) Valley of the Windmill
4) Our Place Under the Sun