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Circle – Silta

Ektro

Circle - SiltaShot over two nights in February 2011, at the Dynamo in Turku and the next day at YK-Klubi in Helsinki, Silta is one of the few Circle DVDs1 released so far which give the viewer a close approximation of the live experience of this most uncategorisably outré of bands.

The Dynamo footage which forms the first part is filtered in sepia tones and framed within an oval vignette effect which keeps the focus on the band tight and fixed, and captures Circle at their most triumphant, bombastic, even, guitars brandished towards the sky while Jussi Lehtisalo and Julius and Pekka Jääskeläinen toss their shaggy manes with the determined rhythmic intensity of the true metallers that they are.

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Raw Power 2015

Circle live at Raw PowerThe Dome and Boston Music Room London 24 May 2015

I have to admit that I’ve never been to Raw Power before. Every year, more than any other festival, there are always an amazing bunch of bands that I have wanted to see, or at least witness again. So even though I was unable to do both Friday and Saturdays events, I managed to race to the venues for the start of things on Sunday afternoon.

As I arrived a few stragglers from the night before began to appear, some still looking blitzed or partly shell-shocked; some with tales of drunken debauchery or just suffering from partial deafness from the Earthless set the day before. Someone informed me that it was more packed at the start of things

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Circle and Mamiffer – Enharmonic Intervals (for Paschen Organ)

Ektro (CD)/SIGE (vinyl)

Circle and Mamiffer - Enharmonic IntervalsEnharmonic Intervals (for Paschen Organ) emanates rousingly from that sharply-scrawled nonplace where Magma meets Khanate, where touches of doomy martial pomp worthy of Coil at their most mordantly impressive march alongside the scuttling electrical signals of cables jumbling in decay and the dusty, keening grandeur of Dead Can Dance. In reality, while the hints and ghosts are there, this record sounds like itself far more than the sum of any references or echoes reverberating out from the works of other artists which might make themselves heard. The combination of Mika Rättö‘s operatic vocals with the slow-motion organ-led doom conjured up by Circle (in this instance the core duo of Rättö and Jussi Lehtisalo) and Mamiffer is one of those musical meetings made almost self-evidently

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Circle – Hissi/Fraten

Ektro

Following on from their debut album Meronia (originally released in 1994) come two more remastered and re-released albums from 1997. For a goodly chunk of Meronia, Circle seemed to be wanting to show themselves as Finland’s very own Loop-worshipping post-metal dudes on a mission to out “Arc-Lite” the template of heavy-riffing guitars in collision with the metronomic sound of Munich, Cologne and Düsseldorf some twenty years earlier, all wind-machine vocals and burbling synths riding on a thundering surf wash of fuzz and wah. However, the later Circle showed themselves to be on a far stranger trip, bringing in strings and other things (such as latter-day vocalist Mika Rätto‘s strangulated operatic vocals, which could equally soar as throttle gutturally) to complement the pounding toms and

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Circle – Manner

Hydra Head

Twenty plus years and albums into the long strange trip that is Circle, Manner confirms that they are still a seriously out there band, whose œuvre can encompass punky noise and proggish metal with equal dexterity, a group who are never less than tight and whose playfulness is as convincing as their steely-eyed commitment to the very meaning of rock. This is the band who spearheaded the ever so slightly sardonically-yet-righly-named New Wave of Finnish Heavy Metal, who keep their faces poker straight even while ramming tongue firmly into cheek. Yes, singer/keyboardist/occasional ballet stooge Mika Rättö does dress as leatherman’s wet dream of a Rob Halford wannabe while singing like a demented cross between Ronnie James Dio and Freddy Mercury at

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Faust – Live at Klangbad Festival/Various Artists – Avant-Garde in the Meadows

Play Loud!

Faust - Live at Klangbad FestivalAlthough this DVD was released in late 2010, the footage — shot at the second annual festival held in Scheer, southern Germany — dates from 2005. Scheer is a small provincial town that since the late 90s has been the headquarters of Faust (or rather one of the two Faust factions, this being the one grouped around keyboardist Jochen Irmler and the Klangbad label). There are actually two films on the disc — a 70 minute record of Faust’s performance at the event, and a slightly longer film titled Avant-Garde in the Meadows which gives an overview of the festival’s three days.

The Faust performance features the aforementioned Jochen Irmler and one other figure from the group’s early ’70s origins, Arnulf Meifert, apparently absent from Faustian circles for many

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Damo Suzuki Network/Circle (live at the Kosmische Club)

Circle The Garage, London 8 June 2002

Circle

Circle look worryingly like they’re going to play pub-Rock covers of Judas Priest – but fortunately nothing could be further from the truth. Finland’s finest space rockers (with the emphasis on the rock) have all the churning drive of Hawkwind at their psychedelic wind-tunnel best, with all the extraneous Blues influences stripped down to the bare rage of fuzz and phaser set to splurge. Other obviously unnecessary reference points might as well include the chug-a-lug intensity of the Butthole Surfers back when they didn’t bother appealing to anyone listening except their own baser selves, and Keiji Haino levitating the Albert Hall from a distance. In other words, they are on a mission to the heart of the musical storm, lashed to their raging Juno 60 synth, squirming guitar

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Various Artists – Fluorescent Tunnelvision

Label: Submergence Format: 2CD

Flourescent Tunnelvision - sleeve detailThe psychedelic rock freak out is not dead, despite rumours to the contrary, and Flourescent Tunnelvision is here to prove the point, ramming home on a coasting scrawl of fuzz, wah, delay and phasers set to half-past stun; the amps probably go a long way over eleven, too. The full benefit of this collection is naturally to be gained at the maximum volume the speakers and neighbours will bear, conjuring up wind tunnel audio effects across the stereo spectrum – as a good proportion of the tracks do in spades. The rest of the bands here do their best to blow minds through other methods for a pastime, and whatever the approach, the results are generally trippy in several senses of the word.

Circle blast off first with the controlled groove of “Veisti” which has

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