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Circuline: Circulive : New View

Is a live album the best way to get to know a band? Well, sometimes it can reveal power, impact and excitement in a way that an outfit’s studio output never quite could. While on other occasions some of the dazzle of those albums can be lost somewhat in live translation. Well, in truth, there’s a little of both going on here with Circulive : New View, the latest live album from the Circuline band, what with this live recording lacking in some of the bells and whistles we’ve come to expect from these sorts of extravaganzas, while still offering up some visual and aural delights that I’m guessing don’t quite catch the spark on the band’s studio work - if they were ever even recorded in that way in the first place.

Credit to the band, because with what amounted to a programme/book and a mouse mat/jar opener arriving with this beautifully packaged CD/DVD/Bluray affair, they’ve put the effort in to capture the reviewer’s attention in a way bands simply don’t care to (or can’t afford to) anymore. And in terms of eye-catching appeal the four panel fold out digi-pack will do likewise for purchasers. However, it’s what’s inside that counts and as a newbie, the two main aspects that grabbed me when I started with the audio disc was Circuline’s dependancy on the prog traditions of Yes, Genesis and King Crimson for their sound and the stunning virtuosity displayed to do so. Where things don’t quite shine in the same light is through the maybe overly honest sound that’s been retained, with what feels like a cavernous hall being filled with a spattering of people who holler and clap in between songs in a somewhat eerie fashion. The music too feels like it struggles to fill that space and aligned to material that doesn’t really push itself forward in terms of having much to say outside of its influences, in all honesty, it’s a little underwhelming. That said, “Black Sun” has real spirit and “Summit” does indeed soar as its name suggests. However that the song that stands out proudest here is the Sound Of Contact cover “Pale Blue Dot”, to me, illustrates the issues, even if the level of musicianship verges on being off the charts. Personally I found the overly theatric stance of singer Natalie Brown to sometimes be at odds with the music she fronts alongside the more than capable Billy Spillane, but she can undoubtedly sing with real force and passion. However, a little more judicious editing could have cut a lot of the stage chatter out altogether and allowed the musical experience to flow in a way that it never quite does.

That’s not such an issue on the visual portions of the show (DVD and Bluray feature the same content, although the Bluray adds some commentary and backstage footage that I doubt I’ll ever be drawn back to) which was recorded at The Ulster County Performing Arts Center, during 2017’s ProgStock. Great though these type of festivals are, the very fact that this is a shared stage event means that at no time does the performance feel ‘special’ in the way you’d hope a DVD/Bluray would. That said, clever little set-plays like the ‘Drum Feature’ where the band all partake in a percussive performance is a joy to watch and to hear, while seeing the dextrous performances from guitarist Alek Darson and keyboard player Andrew Colyer never gets boring.

So, unfortunately, in the case of Circulive : New View, maybe the best way to sample Circuline for the first time is through their studio albums. This release, which has obviously been loving curated and designed is still most enjoyable but I’m guessing existing fans will get much more from the experience than a newcomer like me ever could.

Track Listing
1. Intro + Erosion 
2. Black Sun 
3. One Wish 
4. Nautilus  
5. Piano Challenge 
6. Hollow 
7. Return (acoustic) 
8. Fallout Shelter 
9. Pale Blue Dot (cover) 
10. Forbidden Planet + Drum Feature 
11. Inception 
12. Summit
13. Stereotypes

Added: October 11th 2020
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Circuline online
Hits: 199
Language: english

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