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 Review archive:  # a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

Circle - Soundcheck [Essence Music - 2011]

“Soundcheck” is another CD reissue of an out of print Circle album by Brazil based Essence Music. This release was originally released back in 2009 as a ltd vinyl pressing on Full Contact Records, and this live album features two exclusive tracks, and two previously released tracks.

The album features a very good; almost studio quality recording of the bands set from the Space Force 1 -festival, that took place on the 31st October 2009 in Lahti, Finland. And unlike some bands live albums this stands very well  its own right as a rewarding album that can be enjoyed by anyone, even none Circle converts. Like most of Essence Music releases the cd comes in a  thick card mini gatefold sleeve, that features on its front cover a picture of  crystal skull from the album's originally pressing.

Opening up the album we have the first of the exclusive tracks in the  form of "Kukkakaalia Kapteenit!". The three minute forty track finds a drifting ambient & 80’s subdued AOR synth/ guitar/ drums backing, with soaring mournful finish vocals over the top. And ever so often these second more gruff almost comic sounding  male vocals are added in, & this gives the track a nicely odd contrast.

Next we have the second exclusive track, and this is the 20.39 of “Tuhatsata”. To start with the track keeps the fairly mellow if a little odd vibe of the last track with a circular groove built around 70’s slight jazz tinged rock vibe- with peristent & growing organ textures, pumping guitars & bass. This is topped off with a mixture of rock operatic/ to gruff comic vocals. As we get towards the 6th  minute the pace starts to pick-up, and the vocals drop out as the band go into a more rocking organ ribbed jam-out mode.  As the track goes on the layers of organ, and guitar each take prominence for a time, but the groove stays firm ‘n’ locked through-out.  The vocals reappearing again in the last five or so minute, and they’ve  now got a bit more of a pumped-up rock ‘n’ roll sort swagger ‘n’ repetition to them.


Next we have “Virsi”, which originally appeared on  Circle's 2009’s Triumph album- which featured a live radio session from 2007 at the WFMU radio station in Jersey City. This 9.25 minute version of the track starts with rising 70’s jazz rock organ, then a brief accordion type run, before moving into more rock operatics, before sudden taking a surprising left turning into claustrophobic & helter-skelter like mix of spiralling guitar work & jammed-out jazz rock organ freak-outs.  Around the 5th mintue manic vocals are throwing in to the manic mix, and these go from Jim Morrsion like freaked-out bays/ yells, onto operatic rants…..before the track winds it self down

Lastly we have the 14.00 of “Nopeuskuningas”- this track originally appeared on 2002’s “Sunrise” album, and then later on 2007 live album “Rakennus”. And this track find’s circle locking down into a pounding ‘n’ studded-wrist-band-waving slice of rapid locked groove 80’s metal, with operatic ‘n’ rocking vocals on top. This makes for a great galloping release after the quite sinister & enclosing vibe of the last track.

“Soundcheck” is certainly one of the most consistent, and wholly rewarding live Circle albums I’ve heard, and as I said early I can also see this appealing to none converts of the church of circle too.

Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5

Roger Batty
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