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Circa:

And So On

Review by Gary Hill

The easy explanation of Circa: would be to call them a Yes spin-off band since both Billy Sherwood and Tony Kaye have been in that band. Sure, there are sounds here that resemble Yes music, but to consider them a Yes clone would be a big mistake. They are far more than that. Nor are they a continuation of Sherwood’s band World Trade. This outfit has a progressive rock sound that nods to the music its members have created before, but take the music in a new direction. This is killer progressive rock for a new generation.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2011  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
And So On

Vocals lead off and the cut works out from there in a fast paced, rather Yes-like jam. They work it through a number of changes and at times this feels almost more like Styx, but it’s considerably proggier than that. There are some incredible bits of music here, sometimes working out close to an odd (but very tasty) dissonance. This is quite a diverse and dynamic piece. At times the keyboards really dominate, but the “wall of sound” vocals are one of the consistent driving factors of the piece.

Cast Away
This is based more in a balladic motif. It’s got an intriguing vocal arrangement and keyboards add some interesting bits of drama over the top. Guitar at times does the same later in the piece. Here’s another cool cut that’s based more in mood than in real pyrotechnics. This works through a number of changes and alterations and gets more involved as it continues. It’s a piece that shows itself to be something other than just Yes-ish. In fact, there’s really not a lot of Yes sound here. Instead we get an original modern progressive rock musical element on display.

'Til We Get There

Vocals start this. Then the bass drives for a while. Keys come over the top and it powers out after a while into something that’s more Yes-like. As this continues there are some guitar bursts that make me think of Steve Howe’s work on “On the Silent Wings of Freedom.” In fact, in some ways this really feels quite a bit like Tormato at times. This is a high energy piece that certainly would not feel out of place on a Yes album. It’s a killer number and one of my favorites on the set.

Notorious
This alternates between an almost bluesy mellow rock motif and a powered out prog sound that’s full of majesty and lots of layers of sound. This is a cool tune that establish an original sound for Circa:. These guys are not just a Yes-spin off. Nor are they the second coming of World Trade. They have a musical identity all their own.
Half Way Home
Keys blast out bringing this one in. It works out from there into a rubbery, high energy jam. The vocals really bring the majority of the interest to this one. It’s a cool tune.
In My Sky
Acoustic guitar accompanies the vocals as this builds gradually upward. That motif remains more or less unaltered as the piece continues.
True Progress
Here’s something closer to Open Your Eyes era Yes, but I honestly make out some Big Generator on this, too. Whichever school of thought, though, this is a piece that’s very much in keeping with something Yes might have done. Around the two and a half minute mark, though, it works out to an atmospheric sort of movement as they continue. Eventually they work out from there in a slow moving, melodic progressive rock sound. Then it gives way, after a while, to a bouncing prog movement that’s more in keeping with the earlier sections of the piece. It bursts out into fast paced jamming later.
Each To His Own
Coming in with vocals, this is a somewhat stripped down jam with definite progressive rock leanings as the first verse runs through. Then it powers out in an almost rubbery sound as they work through a number of changes and alterations. There are more of those Steve Howe-like bursts of guitar later.
Life's Offering
Opening with a melodic, vocal dominated movement, this fires out to more Yes-like territory but doesn’t really remain there. It works through a number of varying sections in a very organic and potent arrangement and progression. They really do turn this into quite a dynamic and growing piece of music. While the overall approach would be considered melodic progressive rock, there are sections that hint at more dissonant elements. It covers a lot of territory within that general title, too.
 
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