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The Hope Circuit: Of Earth And Storm

Many years in the making Of Earth And Storm is the first release from multi instrumentalist John Parks, who along with the help of Rosco Weber (acoustic, electric and bass guitars) is The Hope Circuit. The eight songs that make up this debut release are a wonderfully cohesive, yet gently eclectic mixture of styles, genres and tempos that when played in their entirety make for a compelling and interesting listen. Be warned however that immediate satisfaction is not guaranteed from Of Earth And Storm as I would say that it has taken a good couple of weeks to unravel all the subtle complexities that smoothly knit together to make music that is complex in places and starkly simple in others.

Influences range from Porcupine Tree, King Crimson, or The Pineapple Thief through to electro-pop, whilst having the canny knack of never quite settling on any one particular source for reliance. Deep and dark throughout possibly the best description would electronic prog. Using on the whole programmed drums and beats the contrast between those and the often used organic sounds of piano and the likes of dulcimers and Chapman sticks make for a well crafted contradiction in approach that soothes and abrades simultaneously.

Even without any vocals the music has a strong storytelling element to it and the opening three tracks all bind together to build an uncomfortable tension with angular themes, plaintive piano breaks and distorted beats. "My Gravity" bursts into life and is the first track to reveal a more positive vibe and after the claustrophobic introduction to the album its fantastic organ solo and soaring guitars become an uplifting payoff. "Conjecture" then brings the oppression right back down with harsh beats and keyboard breaks and just as it all starts to become too dense you are left with a deep keyboard hum...then wham! We are in later day Genesis territory with a determined beat carrying an insistent keyboard motif that is then joined by a horn section that leaves you thinking of Steely Dan.

The sharp turns in feel continue throughout the rest of the album with the closing trio of songs that make up "Ache Of The Nebula" being particularly effective as they take you on a what sounds like an extremely lonesome and fraught journey.

On first listen Of Earth And Storm can feel challenging and barren, however invest time in the music and a complex and rewarding journey reveals itself. This is not for the faint hearted, however as debuts go it is very impressive.

Track Listing
1. Harvest
2. Continuum
3. Mechanism Overwhelmed
4. My Gravity
5. Conjecture
6. Of Earth And Storm
7. Decoherence
8. Ache Of The Nebula
i. Strange
ii. Truth
iii. Beauty

Added: February 4th 2010
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Band's MySpace Page
Hits: 2868
Language: english

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