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Vienna Circle - 2013 Silhouette Moon

ARTIST: Vienna Circle
ALBUM: Silhouette Moon
LABEL: Audio Treehouse
YEAR: 2013


LINEUP: Paul Davis - guitars, vocals, piano, keyboards, orchestral arrangements * Jack Davis - bass, piano * Alex Micklewright - drums * Dave Waller - saxophone, clarinet * Jess Shute - flute * Patch Morrison - saxophone * Gemma Davis - vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 Strangers * 02 Envy * 03 Dream Passage * 04 Scarlet Dance * 05 Woven Wings * 06 Ballad Of Night * 07 Sea * 08 Eternity * 09 Together * 10 Departure



150 articles, very few being from the progressive rock field, which is strange because I do love prog, I was brought up on the likes of Marillion, Pallas, Twelfth Night, IQ, and still maintain a healthy interest, just sometimes you do need to spend more time on this genre to fully appreciate all its charms. Well is this album prog? This is the same way as viewing Anathema as prog, maybe the word prog is too restrictive, just because a group choose to play over 10 minutes tunes, with intricate passages, with a mirage of instruments, yes all the ingredients, but the result is not what you would expect, not for the first time, a bloody long winded explanation.. sorry. So who are Vienna Circle? Well essentially this is the output of two very talented brothers, Paul and Jack Davis. Added are a number of other musicians to enhance the finish, anyway they call themselves Vienna Circle and they are bloody good.

The Songs
A gentle opening is to be found on 'Strangers', a beautiful poem to music, then drops into 'Envy', which with those female sounds, does for some reason remind me of the theme tune, from Channel 4's, horrible program called Grand Designs, (where self-centred people build large houses out of horse manure but still fail to have room for a television), I kid you not, actually it blends well, before thrusting into the first of many, Pink Floyd guitar breaks with a bit of crunch, glorious, it reminds me of Big Big Train but just with more melodrama. Much of the album is musical passages with just a sprinkling of vocal melodies. The next three tracks, form part of a longer piece of music encompassing 'Dreams Presage', 'Scarlet Dance' and 'Woven Wings'. The opening has echoes of Matt Berry; this triple dose is huge, say nearly 18 minutes of rippling rock, masterful, travelling far beyond the horizon. In between you can trace snatches of Jonathan Wilson especially relevant in the quieter moments, but you would be wrong to assume this being a total wimp out, far from it, as there is plenty of guitar rattling and snaking over keyboards, even some Jethro Tull flute and I just love the bassoon. In fact, this is the centrepiece of the whole album, while towards the end it has me recalling how powerful 'Forgotten Sons' appeared on Marillion's 'Script For A Jesters Tear', maybe like a softer version of that track. Whatever you say, there is no escaping the enormity of this piece. It's mammoth, and more than capable of bringing any old prog fanatic back from the ice age. The bulk is made up of 'Dreams Presage', and when this ends it feeds into 'Scarlet Dance', along with a Peter Frampton vocoder, (strange we never mention Richie Sambora's attempt!), and another measured performance incorporating orchestration, 70's keyboards and a beautiful hook, yes these songs are catchy.

'Woven Wings' provides the listener the best focus that for once you can define folk as a country's origin and it's called England, just listen together with how Circulus have their approach to music. Somehow it's turned inside out and becomes a lovely pop tune, feeds into an impression of Styx's 'Boat On The River' (I actually wrote water!), and then the mild calm becomes a bit choppy, a violent sea storm caused by keyboards, flute and guitar, it is genuinely very dramatic but be wary of the false finish. Across this album I found the guitar sound had that similar tone found on latter-day Deep Purple, like the 'Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming' era, what a tune that is. 'Ballad Of The Night', cloaks itself in an image of the great Toy Matinee, together and believe me it took a while to tie down the vocal sound, which melts into a westcoast vision, and finally it clicked, Michael Ruff, yep that's it, is westcoast prog, sounds like I am making up any old genre, as quick as Nigel Farage (leader of the UKIP party here in the UK, that basically blames the European Union for all the world's ills, make your own minds up?) makes up policies (he forgets that he needs more than one to make a manifesto, although the only manifesto he has, is probably the album by Roxy Music). The melodies fit like a comfy sofa, clinging to your eyes, a safe place to be.

This does have its odd moments, one being 'The Sea', and this slow, dreamlike structure, identifies that sometimes, you have an awareness of David Bowie, floating (in a tin can) around the recording, just in snippets, maybe that is just the aura of this album, even indescribable. This guitar break even with my limited knowledge is influenced straight from Pink Floyd. I love the foreboding introduction to 'Eternity', like the World at War documentary series, or even like a piece by Sir Edward Elgar (another Wolves fan, I might add), moves to a pretty up beat surface, again then switches onto the Anathema channel, always a favourite on my music box, essentially a beautiful piece of music, just music, no need for vocals. 'Together' is a longer recap of the opening, 'Strangers' (I think the technical term is a 'reprise', got that from the back off a Gillan album, pretty sure it was 1982, 'Magic'), but this is extended into a full music scape of the finest proportions. Then it explodes like blowing a dandelion globe, with all the seeds flying off in all directions, the music and melody carries you into a better place. It finishes just as good as it starts, with 'Departure' and brings into play, the female cries of Gemma Davis, very similar to the effect of Lee Douglas has on Anathema. Amazed to even mention that with the orchestration they even managed to top trump that Liverpool team, a right giant killing, these boys can certainty compose rather than merely writing and that point really appears to be the defining factor on this album.

In Summary
If you have enjoyed the Matt Berry albums, and need a ration of Pink Floyd then this may feed that appetite. Although let's be clear this can never be classed as just a coffee table album to discuss with your highbrow friends, it's an album well worth investing in. Why not in addition pick up their debut from 2009 titled 'White Clouds', both are self-financed, while 'Silhouette Moon' also comes with a DVD of the making of the album as standard, have I watched it? Course not I never watch them, don't know way I even bother buying special editions! I am sure I am not the first contributor to think about jacking all this writing stuff in, yes I am being very melodratic I'm sure, what do you expect from an accountant (maybe not) but when you come across something like this it pushes you to write, so as long as only one other person bothers to listen to this due to reading this article, and subsequently enjoys and understand it, then I am happy. Skip the television serials boys; go straight to film scores, that's where your future lies. They have made a grand design of an album. To finish by quoting extreme adventurer, Richard Parks (or to be fair his grandmother), for the Davis brothers, in a music context, 'the horizon is only the limit of their sight'.

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