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Circle | Alotus (Klangbad)
The latest dose of mesmeric material from Finnish quintet Circle, 'Alotus' sees the band expanding yet further into their endless abyss of claustrophobic krautrock. Featuring five tracks ?? four of which extend well past the ten-minute mark ?? and released via Faust's Hans Joachim Irmler's Klangbad label, this album marks a slight u-turn for Circle, withdrawing partially from the rabid sonic assaults of recent releases back towards the elongated instrumental passages of old. Until relatively recently minus a vocalist anyway, 'Alotus' is almost a re-assessment of this band's past, a pause before their next unwritten chapter is addressed. Whether pushing forward or hovering in the now, whilst in full-flight, this is still a bewitching spell to encounter.
Hung around the incessant, mountainous bass of Jussi Lehtisalo, these songs build and expand, before building and expanding yet further still, with increasingly jazz-infected edges. Yet for those who prefer this band at their most primal, those moments when you fear your skull is about to collapse are also never that far away. Circle take the basic principals laid down by the likes of Can and Neu!, then propel them onto a roller-coaster ride driven by Black Sabbath. In-between, the surreal gothic preacher-man yelps of vocalist Mika Ratto shoot glaring holes in the sky. With Circle in charge, the listener is merely a startled rabbit in their increasingly dazzling headlights. And once hit, you'll not be moving anywhere for a good while.

Ian Fletcher
CWAS #12 - Summer 2003