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Circuline: Counterpoint

Circuline has gone from being a former rock cover band named Downing Grey to a legitimate force in progressive rock.

The band is: Andrew Colyer (keys, sound design, and vocals), Darin Brannon (drums, percussion, keys), Natalie Brown (lead vocals), William "Billy" Spillane (lead vocals, rhythm guitars) and Beledo (guitars).

Counterpoint is their second release. As "New Day" comes knocking on your door your immediate sense is that this is a band that means business and provides some serious musicianship. In the background of the track are voices that sound like astronauts speaking to mission control. I found what they were saying unintelligible but it did not matter because the music is just fantastic. The curtain draws back for a new day and Circuline is here to bring progressive rock to touch every sensory perception you have.

The next track is "Who I Am" a complex and quirky number featuring superb ever changing time signatures and the vocals that match up quite nicely to fill in those crazy changes. I am no stranger to this pace and approach, as a matter of fact find it quite entertaining. The male and female vocal exchange and combination of both really complete the track.

"Forbidden Planet" is the title of a track but also a classic 1956 sci-fi movie. The track is a fitting tribute to that genre and culture. This is powerful sweeping music highlighted by a thick layer of keys, powerful vocals, particularly from lead singer Natalie Brown. Then towards the end incredibly strong drumming comes in from Darin Brannon. Everyone gets an opportunity to spread their wings and fly with the sounds. This is an amazing track that truly epitomizes prog rock.

In many ways this is cinematic rock and "Hollow" is the perfect example of that virtuosity. The track just keeps going and going through a trail of changes and ups and downs that will make your head spin. It's a thrilling musical ride. It has parts that are a little spooky and others that are all amped up with razor sharp guitar licks and fast pace drumming that provides the heartbeat. When the track is completed it clocks in at 10:48. It is a monster track and the very apex of their abilities on display. "Erosion" is just the opposite coming in at 3:21, which is more like an intro compared to everything else offered on the album. It's a weird little ditty to change the pace for a bit, but not to worry their big sound returns on the next track "Nautilus." With a title like that you would expect something with power and forcefulness and that is exactly what you get, varying degrees of it of course, after all this is prog.

The latter half of the album you see another side of the band, at times they take a softer road but it is still adventurous and ultimately entertaining prog rock. The music serves as a soundscape of colors, time and space and perhaps your own movie showing inside your mind's eye. The choice is yours. That is the gift of great music such as this.

This is a fantastic album from the first note to the last. It was a pleasure to listen to and absorb. I felt so much appreciation and wonder for what I was hearing. It hit my sweet spot and reminded me how alive and well progressive rock is. I think it is safe to say we have been experiencing the golden age of the genre and although the 70s was crucial and fondly remembered it is the last several years that have helped the music grow in popularity like it never has before. Bands like Circuline will be remembered for their contributions and Counterpoint as one of the best releases of 2016.

01. New Day
02. Who I Am
03. Forbidden Planet
04. Hollow
05. Erosion
06. Nautilus
07. Stay (Peter Frankenstan)
08. S.O.A.
09. Inception
10. Summit

Added: October 23rd 2016
Reviewer: Keith Hannaleck
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 1764
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Circuline: Counterpoint
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2016-10-23 23:16:18
My Score:

Circuline is an American progressive rock band which formed after the disbanding of the prog tribute band Downing Grey in 2014. Members Darin Brannon, Andrew Colyer and Bill Shannon wanted to write new material, hence the formation of Circuline. Their first album Return was released in 2015 and have now recorded the follow up Counterpoint which came out a few months ago. On the new album Shannon has been replaced on guitars by Beledo. The rest of the band is the aforementioned Andrew Colyer (keyboards, sound design, vocals) and Darin Brannon (drums, percussion, keyboards) as well as Natalie Brown (lead vocals), William Spillane (lead vocals, rhythm guitars) and Paul Ranieri (basses). The guest list includes a who's who of progressive rock including Randy McStine (Lo-Fi Resistance), Matt Dorsey (Sound of Contact), Doug Ott (Enchant), Stanley Whitaker (Oblivion Sun), Kamran Alan Shikoh (Glass Hammer), Alex Darson (Fright Pig) and Ryche Chlanda (Flying Dreams).

What a fantastic surprise this album has been. I had no idea of the existence of this band before I listened to Counterpoint and I have to say I am blown away. As expected from a list of such highly accomplished musicians, the musicianship and song writing is exceptional. This is a full bore prog album that is both thrilling and imaginative and had me reeled in from the very beginning.

The first track "New Day" is more or less an instrumental with mission control-like radio chatter. A cool drum roll and effects build into a cacophony of sound that becomes quite intense. The excellent guitar and keys is pretty spacey, a good fit considering the song's theme. On "Who I Am" the beginning bursts with heavy prog before a pretty piano interlude and acoustic guitar take the listener into a calmer setting. Back and forth it goes between gentle and heavy along an outstanding vocal melody. Next is "Forbidden Planet" having an almost unearthly keyboard intro before soaring guitar and vocals make a grandiose entrance. The cinematic ending makes for a great slice of modern prog. Stark piano begins "Hollow" before heavy guitar work adds a dramatic edge to the music. More piano and heavy guitar interplay makes for an excellent progressive rock track. The album ends with "Summit" featuring a stellar vocal , bold rhythms and tasty lead guitar.

There is no doubt Circuline will make an impact with Counterpoint. One of the best examples of modern progressive rock I have heard in quite some time. Highly recommended!

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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