MENU
Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Solstice - Circles CD (album) cover

CIRCLES

Solstice

 

Neo-Prog

2.60 | 25 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

FragileKings
Prog Reviewer
2 stars I find it easier to simply buy a CD and take time to listen to the music to see what I think about it rather than just formulate an opinion by listening to samples from YouTube, Amazon, or iTunes. There have been a few albums and bands who failed to impress me when I gave a casual listen to a well-reputed album; however, when I later decided to buy a CD anyway, I often found that I quite liked the music. White Willow, Curved Air, Gentle Giant, Camel, and Van Der Graaf Generator required the commitment of an album purchase for me to appreciate their music. It's always a gamble, and there have been a few duds in between, even those that received high ratings and strong recommendations. But for the most part, my adventures in progressive rock have been fruitful.

Among the various resources I have for finding new music, Stephen Lambe's "Citizens of Hope and Glory: the Story of Progressive Rock" has introduced me to a lot of great albums that I might not have been otherwise tempted to purchase. The book includes reviews of 65 prog albums, and though I already had a couple of dozen or so of them when I first read the book, I have found Mr. Lambe's taste to be very close to mine when it comes to prog. I have since purchased many of the albums mentioned in the book and I have been enjoying most of them. "Circles" by Solstice is one of those albums reviewed in the book and included as a "gateway album" to prog.

I first sampled Solstice's music several months ago and was not particularly interested. Still, my luck with Lambe's recommendations had been running high and so I paid a fairly high price to get the remastered album with bonus tracks imported from Amazon UK. Unfortunately, I have not been particularly impressed this time around.

For the most part, it's simply the sound of the album that doesn't appeal to me. The production is steeped in a flood of sharp sound and it is Andy Glass' guitar soloing that comes across as a David Gilmour fan who has turned the reverb and chorus levels up too high. Against the backdrop of very clean folk rock percussion and various synthesizer sounds and occasional violin, it seems almost intrusive in its thickness and sharpness. It reminds me too much of a musical style that I don't care much for. Such is my opinion.

The music itself is well-enough composed and certainly well-played; however, I find little of what I seek in progressive rock or progressive music. Most of the music is rather simple, a kind of electric folk or New Age hippy rock. Except for Glass' insistent soloing, which is rather laid back and I'm certain to some degree soulful, there is little in the way of virtuosity or a sense of great skill. Just pretty songs with too much sound! Though there are a few instruments that enrich the overall sound palette, most notably the violin, and at times the music can be uplifting as in "Thank You", the song structures are mostly too normal, the tempo too unvarying, the lyrics too repetitive, and the vocals only marginally appreciable. I believe it was a reviewer on PA who remarked about the trend of some British bands to produce albums with a violinist and an unremarkable female vocalist and a lot of acoustic instrumentation and be labeled prog rock bands. Solstice have clearly emerged their style from a folk background, but it doesn't impress me like White Willow did. Solstice sound to me like a watered-down version of Iona without Joanne Hogg's unique voice. In short, I can't listen to the album in the company of others and feel pleased with my listening choice. It's kind of embarrassing, and my wife hasn't even been introduced to this.

One track worthy of special mention, I feel, is the title track, which relates the story of the Battle of the Beanfield, when British police violently attacked caravans of people and families who had come to celebrate the summer solstice at Stonehenge. Though the police were initially under orders to keep people from approaching the stones (in previous years, visitors had done great damage to the surrounding land, digging pit toilets in ancient barrows and driving over the lawn), their enforcement soon turned into belligerence as they beat men, women, and women holding babies. The full account is on Wikipedia. During the middle of the song, the audio recording of a reporter on the scene is played along with the screams and cries of some of the victims. The reporter claims that the next day, when he returned to his office, all camera footage was gone (this is in the Wiki article and not on the CD).

I've read that Solstice's new album is very good but I think I have heard enough with "Circles". I have found many other albums that I wish to purchase that sound more promising. Still, if you like folk rock without too much complexity and a loud, over-chorused electric guitar then this may be your album!

FragileKings | 2/5 |

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Share this SOLSTICE review

Social review comments () BETA







Review related links

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: JazzMusicArchives.com — jazz music reviews and archives | MetalMusicArchives.com — metal music reviews and archives