Circle - Golem/Vesiliirto [Ektro Records - 2013]This two disc CD set brings together two out-print albums from the mighty yet unpredictable locked riff multi genre wonder of Finland’s Circle. Golem is a live album recorded in 2003, and Vesiliirto is a studio album from the same year- and both releases find the band in a more free-form, experimental, and largely jam based mood.
This release originally appeared back in 2004, as a joint vinyl release between two fairly small Finish labels: Kevyt Nostalgia & Super Metsä. This 2013 reissue adds in thirty five minutes of unreleased material which is spread over both discs & both albums.
On disc one we have Golem which is the live album, and this takes in the albums original five tracks, plus one extra track in the form track number two “Matka”. The six tracks last between just over the five minute mark to just under the nineteen minute mark. With track titles like “At War With Mercy”, “Salamander Sword” and “Forbidden Steel Patriot”, you’d expect the band to be in their cheesy 1980’s metal setting, but instead the tracks are fairly lose yet persistent brews of bounding ‘n’ mostly quite dirgey jams that mixers in elements of pounding yet layered percussion, guitars & bass with jazzy rock organ runs, harmonica flourishers, & Fx mixed layers of vocals & voices. The tracks really have little formal structure, shape or melody in much of their running times, and they often feel like you on a bizarre free-fall though the bands collective conciseness as different genre elements drift & dart by. There are elements of malevolent brooding psychedelic drone matter, surreal honky tonk, jazz rock drifts, rock ‘n’ roll, mellow 70’s tinged folk rock, ect. It’s certainly not an easy record, but if you have some grounding in the bands more free form/ experimental side there’s a lot to savoy here.
On disc two we have Vesiliirto which is the studio album. And this originally featured five tracks, and this new reissue takes in one & a half new tracks (the albums last track is now in two parts, hence the half track)….so we now have six tracks in all. All the track titles this time are in Finish, and once again we have a fairly mixed track length between just over four & a half minutes, to just shy of twenty two minute mark. The album starts off in a similar manner to Golem with quite a dense/ free structure, but as the album progresses the tracks seem to have a bit more shape, melody & form to them….through there still fairly experimental/ jam like in their feel. We go from the “Tuliset miekat käsissä” with it’s on/off vamping organ textures, wondering bass line, spacey synth trails, tribal almost African tinged drum lines, and blues to rock ‘n’ roll weaved guitar work. To the layered head fucking psychedelics of “Neljä kolkkaa” which mixers together repetitive & wonky bass churn with layers of hazed hammered dulcimer like textures, darts of FX & slow down voice elements, and eerier drone lo-fi ness. On the whole it’s a rewarding album that sees the band return to their more circular sound, yet still retain some of the surprise & sonic free-fall of Golem.
So all in all this a worthy reissue of two Circle albums that find the band in a more free & loose experimental form- it’s not really a release for newbie’s to the Circle cause, but those who are familiar with the band & enjoy their more free/experimental edges will find a lot here to enjoy & get lost in.