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Circu5 - 2017 - "Circu5"

(43:22, ST Productions)


1.  Coming Home
2. My Degenerate Mind
3. Stars
4. Days Erased
5. Strings
6. Blame It On Me
7. The Amazing Monstrous Grady

The Chosen One:
8. Baptism
9. Transfiguration
10. Crucifixion
11. Resurrection
12. Ascension


Steve Tilling - all instruments, vocals
Phil Spalding - vocals
Matt Backer - guitars
Johnny Warman - vocals, voice
Dave Gregory - guitars
Andy Neve - keyboards, synths
Alan van Kleef - drums

Prolusion. UK project CIRCU5 is the creative vehicle of composer and musician Steve Tilling. With some help from additional musicians Tilling has compiled material to create a concept album, which was released as "Circu5" in the fall of 2017 through ST Productions, a label one may presume is Tilling's own.

Analysis. While this album is given promotion through the progressive rock channels, this really isn't a progressive rock album as such, although it does touch base with this universe here and there. Instead I'd say that this is more of a US centric production in terms of the styles visited and explored. In terms of genre placement, I guess alternative rock is a fairly appropriate one. Bookending this album we have two songs that each have their own take on material with a liberal flavoring of Americana in them, a few parsecs away from country, but you will find lap steel on this album, if not in copious amounts. That is just the start and the conclusion though, as what can be found in between those is a tad different. For me, grunge became something of a key word when taking notes. Some of the cuts comes across as pretty straight forward takes on that genre, others had more of an undercurrent or intent in that direction. Not that this is a bad thing in any way, as I rather like music of this kind, but something that might not appeal to the dedicated progressive rock fans. On some points this album does take on something of a progressive rock spirit however. We get more alterations in pace and intensity, distinct different arrangements explored in some compositions, recurring motifs and similar structural features one encounters in progressive rock on a regular occasion. Up to and including some nice, elegant psychedelic instrument details. This, combined with the fairly elegant and controlled lead vocals of Tilling, at times gave me something of a later day Porcupine Tree vibe actually, if that band had replaced their Floydian touched with grunge and alternative rock that is. Kind of a case where the structures and contrasting sequences used are comparable, but the actual arrangements, moods and atmospheres explored are different. In this case quite a lot darker as far as the latter details are concerned.

Conclusion. While Circu5 doesn't come across as being a progressive rock album as such, it is a production that should find some appeal among fans of progressive rock. It has some key structural details in place for starters, and some songs that on some levels aren't too far removed from the likes of Porcupine Tree. That it is a concept album should also appeal, presumably. As for a possible key audience. I'd guess that fans of artists such as The Dear Hunter, and possibly also Radiohead, might get the charms of this production most easily.

Progmessor: December 30st, 2017
The Rating Room

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