Album review: CIRCULINE – CircuLive New View (DVD/Blu-ray)

CIRCULINE - CircuLive New View

Inner Nova Music [Release date 09.10.20]

Starting out covering Yes, Genesis, ELP, Gentle Giant, King Crimson, UK, Jethro Tull, Rush, and Pink Floyd, three members of New York based tribute band Downing Grey decided to form Circuline in 2014 as a vehicle to write and perform their own brand of prog.

Founder members and main writers Andrew Colyer (keyboards), Bill Shannon (guitars) and Darin Brannon (drums) brought in Matt Dorsey (Sound of Contact) to play bass on five tracks on their debut, recruiting Led Zeppelin tribute band, No Quarter singer Billy Spillane, and Natalie Brown a singer with 20+ years theatrical experience to front the band on vocals.

12 months in the making, their debut Return (2015) was an ‘old school’ album, with their collective influences never far below the surface and scoring a ***1/2 review here at GRTR!

Their quick turnaround follow-up Counterpoint (2016) scored similarly and unlike their debut, which was very much a case of ‘spot the influence’, was a more cohesive piece of work peppered with atmospheric spatial ambience, if lacking a real ‘killer’ track.

CircuLive::Majestik a CD/DVD/Blu-ray release (one that passed GRTR! by) captured the band’s first large scale public performance at RosFest in 2016, and now we have a second live CD/DVD/Blu-ray (yes, all 3 formats in one digipack!) capturing the band’s performance at Progstock, New Jersey in 2017.  The Blu-ray includes bonus content in the form of an audio commentary, ‘Backstage and behind the scenes’, official music videos, and onstage and poster slides.

To be honest, it seems quite an OTT package for what amounts to a Giants Of Rock style performance – i.e. a functional, but limited lightshow, and a line-up of ageing dudes who while not in need of zimmers yet, don’t exactly cartwheel around the stage.

But hey, we are talking prog – so most of the ‘action’ involves chord changes and ‘virtuoso’ style extended ‘solo’ workouts.  It’s the sort of performance you’d be quite happy to sit through on a damp Minehead afternoon, and merch store sales would no doubt be brisk.

But in terms of wider appeal, I come back to what I said about Counterpoint – and that’s while the Circuline musicianship is ‘up there’, there remains a lack of a unique selling point, and to my ears material strong enough to convert the casual listener.  ***

Review by Pete Whalley




 

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