Circu5 - Circu5

(CD 2017, 49:52, Steven Tilling/ST Productions, STP270319)

The tracks:
  1- Coming Home(2:31)
  2- My Degenerate Mind(4:16)
  3- Stars(5:06)
  4- Days Erased(1:52)
  5- Strings(4:06)
  6- Blame It On Me(4:44)
  7- The Amazing Monstrous Grady(5:38)
  8- The Chosen One - Baptism(3:20)
  9- The Chosen One - Transfiguration(5:15)
10- The Chosen One - Crucifixion(1:40)
11- The Chosen One - Resurrection(6:18)
12- The Chosen One - Ascension(5:06)

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Steve Tilling is a British multi-instrumentalist who debuts here with his Circu5. He has played almost the entire album himself, with guest contributions here and there. He has done no less than five years on this record. Given this time, I am very curious how the result sounds.

First, I want to tell you something about the contents of the CD case, because it looks really nice. It contains a 28-page booklet with all lyrics and accompanying photographs. The lyrics are about some secret government agency to which the main character appears to belong. I read a lot of psychic terms and also about personality disorders. There is also a special secret document that explains this, but please note, it is very secret! As I am a counselor in my daily life on the psychological level, the purpose of the texts escapes me, but I leave that for what it is.

Coming home is the opening track of this conceptual album. Babbling guitar and wonderful vocals from Steve with even a piece of a-capella sung at the end, a beautiful opener. My Degenerate Mind and Stars are rock songs that are not too complicated. In My Degenerate Mind it's the guitar that matters, in Stars it's the rhythm section. Days Erased is a short threatening song in which the lyrics are half spoken and where the keyboard sounds matters, lovely! In Strings there are more vocal lines and the lyrics seem to be important. This song is a bit quieter in which the drum parts are fun and constructive. A nice, quiet guitar solo is woven through the song. Blame It To Me is more a rocker, as are the vocals with a beautiful, harmonious guitar solo. In The Amazing Monstrous Grady the bass matters, there is even space for a solo on bass. In my opinion Steve is a good bass player, I hear it all over the album. Also in this song is a long, meandering guitar solo that feels really nice and touches you.

The Chosen One is the big finale, a track that clocks 21 minutes divided into 5 pieces. The first, Baptism starts with acoustic guitars and vocals. Halfway the rhythm sections enters in and there is room for the electric guitar. The lyrics are important. Transfiguration, the second part, is an instrumental. I do experience a bit of Rush. The guitar and rhythm section perform their own act in which the guitar work is challenging and even a twin solo passes by. I will automatically move from this track. It is the most proggy one and my favourite of the album. In Crucifixion the guitar sounds a bit like Queensryche. There are duo vocals which are a highlight for me. Resurrection is the longest track of the album with a lot of variety. It starts with calm guitar parts. After 37 seconds heavy guitar parts enter with threatening licks that return now and then during the song, they are really contagious. This song ends as it starts, but now played backwards, really original and beautiful. I get the feeling 'I have survived' if I listen to Ascension. There is a contagious guitar chord with lovely vocal lines. It is a nice ending to a good album.

For me the highlights of this album are the vocals of Steve, he can handle many vocal lines. Also the last track, The Chosen One, is a real highlight for me. The other songs are more simple. If you like accessible rock music, you surely have to check this album. Go and listen quickly and judge for yourself.

***+ Michel Stolk (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)

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