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miércoles, 14 de diciembre de 2016

Circusfolk - Making Faces (2007)

Aquí, el disco finlandés del día. Este fue el primer y único disco de una prometedora banda que ya ha dejado de existir y ha dejado este registro, un disco interesante, finamente producido y original, inteligente y emotivo. Con ustedes, un casi desconocido disco que los invito a conocer.

Artista: Circusfolk
Álbum: Making Faces
Año: 2007
Género: Crossover Prog
Duración: 37:41
Nacionalidad: Finlandia

Lista de Temas:
1. Submarina
2. If
3. Step Away
4. The Fool
5. Where in the Outside in
6. Haven
7. Rhubarbed Wire
8. Strangers

- Ari Honkanen / guitars, melodica, vocals
- Aatu Kettunen / guitars, vocals, distorted bass on 5
- Pekka Pietarinen / bass guitars
- Daniel Porschen / drums, backing vocals
- Charlotta Falenius / violin, viola
- Tarmo Simonen / organs and mellowsounds

Lamentablemente no he encontrado referencia a la banda, fundada en 2004 con la idea de probar nuevos sonidos e ideas. Eso sí, el disco no tiene el distintivo sonido finlandés, uno podría suponer que pueden ser de Inglaterra o de los EEUU. Nada de folk, melodías más oscuras,

No voy a dejar grandes comentarios, no voy a dejar videos, simplemente copio estos textos en inglés como único comentario y ustedes verán si les interesa. Es más ue nada una labor de futura arqueología, porque este es un disco duy difícil de conseguir y en el futuro será imposible hacerlo, como corresponde a una obra de un grupo independiente, y encima, de Finlandia!

This Finnish band was active also as a live act in 2004-2008 but sadly folded after releasing only one full album. It would have been interesting to see where they would have gone with more time. Making Faces is not only very promising debut, it's finely produced, exciting, original and mature prog rock album. Unfairly short one, but full of intelligence and emotion. Their prog aspect is more Eclectic than Symphonic, rather guitar oriented, and blessed with a suitable amount of pop catchiness - without having much of repetitive chorus-refrain-chorus structures! They don't have any distinctive Finnish sound, instead one could guess they're from England, USA or Sweden.
The opener 'Submarina' is a dark ambient instrumental painting an underwater atmosphere. An echoed guitar and machine-like screeches make brief appearances amidst fascinating serenity somewhere between Brian Eno and New Age. However this is quite dissimilar from the rest of the album; I would have liked to hear more such spaceyness. 'If' features Gentle Giant reminding rhythmic angularity especially in the vocals. 'Step Away' feels like edgy indie rock and is my least fave track.
'The Fool' (6:22, the longest track actually) is a wonderful prog number, mostly in a spacey atmosphere but with plenty of variety in tempo and soundscapes, and yet remaining totally coherent. Mellotron sound is present too, though it may not be a real mellotron. Charlotta Falenius's viola is as its most effective on this one. The next song resembles slightly 80's King Crimson with its angry bass / guitar parts.
The vocals are also very good; I'm thinking of them as a cross between Elvis Costello and... Adrian Belew, perhaps. 'Haven' has excellent vocal delivery and sonic freshness similar to Daniel Lanois / U2. Then comes an eclectic mixture of rock energy and ambient-flavoured sound tapestry. This music is indeed highly intelligent without being dry at all. The closing song 'Strangers' partly returns to the submarinal soundscapes of the opener. Recommended for Crossover Prog listeners, easily worth four stars.

After three years together with two ep releases and a lot of gigging mainly around the Helsinki area under their collective belt, the pop fusion orchestra Circusfolk hooked up with their frequent gigging partner Overhead's keysmaster Tarmo Simonen and entered the studio under his guidance to record their first full length album.
The album opens with Submarina, a longish underwater atmosphere intro made entirely on treated guitars. They come from the deep depths of the sea to lighter waters and introduce the finger picked rhythmic riff to If, a long time concert staple inspired by the science center Heureka's planetarium in their native town of Vantaa. Ari Honkanen sings in a more assured voice than before and the band rocks tighter than ever. Producer Simonen adds his synth flavors as he does throughout the album. Step Away is the name of the next song and it's probably the best crystallization of their versatile style: tight quirky rhythms, pop melodies, freak out instrumental section (with some melodica adding a nice touch) and heavy riffing morphing into a very bright and optimistic sounding section. On this album the band remakes two tracks from their previous releases, the first being the first track they ever wrote. They give The Fool much more character by slowing it down, adding some guitar synth, a brilliant guitar solo by Honkanen and a completely updated masterfully intense instrumental section with strong viola precence. Kudos for Charlotta Falenius, fantastic work. Where In The Outside In is I believe the newest track of the album and despite its neat vocal harmonies, guitar patterns and heavy bass riffing it's slightly the weakest track here in its tad directionless feel. A good song anyway, but there's better things still coming. Haven was the minor ballad hit of their second ep and it's presented here with more prominent viola, a soft march rhythm on the snare drum and even some mellotron spices for grandiosity. A great pop song incorporating some funky rhythms when approaching the chorus. The last two tracks are mainly penned by lead guitarist Aatu Kettunen and he also handles the lead vocals on these tracks. And shockingly well he does considering that this is the first time we hear him on the mic. Rhubarbed Wire is my personal favourite with its stop-start verses, odd rhythms, haunting mid-section and a magnificent finale where Kettunen shows off his voice. The man can really sing. Ending the album is their most straightforward piece of music yet, the sweet little ballad called Strangers. Sweet until you concentrate on the lyrics and hear a story of a daddy warning his little ones to steer clear of suspicious strangers and then it turns out that maybe they're not the only thing to beware. Great contrast between the exterior and the content.
Lasting less than 38 minutes Making Faces is an album you want to put on again straight away. It leaves you hungry for more. Producer Simonen has made a great job putting some much needed kick to the band's sound lacking on the ep releases. For a debut album this is a brilliant offering but not quite the mindblower that The Progression Bell ep was a year before despite its thin sound. The songwriting is still there big time, now also the sound is there, where will they take us next?
Pekka Turunen

This is the debut album from this Finnish band, after a couple of EP's. Circusfolk consists of six people playing guitars, organs, melodica, bass, drums, viola and violin - and most of them also sing. The evolution of this review has been rather strange: the first time I heard the CD I got the impression that this is rather standard neo-prog with not much to offer. You know, this kind of material that can best be described as "same old story". Yet, with time I started discovering interesting indie rock influences that enrich the diversity and make things more interesting. Some hints that might help me make my point: the group photo on MySpace, which so much reminds me of The Smashing Pumpkins artwork in the Mellon Collie era and the mentioning of the innovative Danish pop act Mew in their list of MySpace "sounds like".
If I had to mention some influences I would say No-Man and the lighter side of Porcupine Tree, Enchant, Mew and Rush, with some technical efforts here and there bringing to mind King Crimson or Sieges Even. Particular mention should be made to the effect of the violin here and there. For example, The Fool is absolutely dominated by a beautiful violin interlude that reminds me of No-Man's track Angel Gets Caught In The Beauty Trap. I have a feeling the band could gain a lot from exploiting this instrument further. All instrumentalists are gifted and they seem to draw inspiration from various sources, as for example, the guitar style ranges from melodic tunes ala Enchant, up to technical Fripp-like experimentations and Lifeson-style riffs. The main voice is pretty "low profile" - I would never say it is unique, but it fits pretty well, especially when it is aiming at being mellow. The singing though could be improved in a couple of instances.
Without identifying a really weak track, it must be said that the definite highlight of the album is the song Haven: I am pretty sure that most of the people out there that would hear this song would be very tempted to buy this album. It is almost a prog classic due to a beautiful refrain that brings Enchant to mind and a very memorable blend of Tony Banks-like keys, guitar and violin. Once again the latter instrument tastefully flavours the song, which despite being quite repetitive and simple in its structure, reaches compositional perfection. The track has also been released as a single, and according to the band it did pretty well in Finland - no surprise. Rhubarbed Wire is a counterexample: many many changes and naughty mood by the band as they expose their most experimental arsenal. Organs and more Steven Wilson-like songwriting can also be found, as in the album closer Strangers.
To close this review I'll say that there is a lot of adventure combined with emotional parts in a rather balanced offering. The use of Hammond and violin could be expanded and some of the vocal parts could be more taken care of. Also, some material that tends to become a bit cliché could be avoided, but anyway things already work the way they are. I see a lot of freshness in this band and I wouldn't be surprised if they do great things next time.
Conclusion: 7 out of 10
Christos Ampatzis

Si quieren probarlo, ya saben dónde encontrarlo.

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Este espacio se reserva el derecho de publicar sobre cualquier tema que parezca interesante a su staff, no solamente referidos a la cuestión musical sino también a lo político y social.
Si no estás de acuerdo con lo expresado podrás dejar tu comentario siempre que no sea ofensivo, discriminador o violento...

Y no te confundas, no nos interesa la piratería, lo nuestro es simplemente desobediencia civil y resistencia cultural a favor del libre acceso al conocimiento (nuestra música es, entre otras tantas cosas, conocimiento).