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Circle - Hollywood CD (album) cover

HOLLYWOOD

Circle

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

2.39 | 9 ratings

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Matti
Prog Reviewer
2 stars There's a sticker on this CD saying "Exciting new band from Finland", which of course isn't true. CIRCLE has existed since the early 90's and their discography is huge. But that lie is something one might expect from a band which has e.g. switched band names temporarily with another band (FALCON), and is about to release an album titled Pharaoh Overlord, the same day as their brother band PHARAOH OVERLORD releases an album titled Circle.

However the line-up on this album was new and one-off. On vocals, lead guitars and dulcimer is an American long-term musician Bruce Duff. His voice has been compared to Tom Waits and Captain Beefheart (though he's sort of stingy instead of equally rough); I'd add Tom Petty and Bruce Dickinson. That collaboration makes Hollywood a unique Circle album. I can't say Circle in general would be among my favourites, but this one is certainly not up to my taste, mainly because I don't like Duff as a vocalist. And vocals are here in an essential role unlike on most of Circle albums.

'Connection' is a rocking fast-tempo opener, perhaps among the most efficient tracks even if not exciting or having much to do with Psychedelic/Space Rock, just like this album in general. Nearly 8-minute 'Mercy and Tuesday' is repetitive and built on a riff (a feature very familiar in Circle's music), but the instrumental latter half has quite nice twangling of acoustic guitars. 'Earthworm' is a sped-up heavy rocker with a fiery electric guitar solo and a hint of hypnotic Krautrock, but very straight-forward 'Sacrifice' is nothing but a cheap BLACK SABBATH clone.

Slower 'Spam Folder' (8:12) gives slightly more space to Mika R'tt''s minimalistic keyboards. Without Duff's vocals this would be closer to the hypnotic essence of Circle, now it's mostly just boring and too long. 'Hard to Realize' is "an acoustic gospel-blues", extremely dry in sound - actually dry is a good adjective for the whole album. 'Madman' lasts for 15 minutes, the monotonous, riff-based playing offering a background for Bruce Duff's storytelling. The two last lines of each verse end with the word Madman. The way the instrumental final section increases the speed and intensity is good, but frankly the track is seriously too long. Also 'Suddenly' is an extended track (11:33) even if it's basically quite monotonous Heavy/Hard Rock.

If you enjoy the Heavy Rock side of CIRCLE and a Tom Waits reminding vocalist sounds like a suitable addition into their riff-based monotony, this is your album, but otherwise most likely not.

Matti | 2/5 |

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