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- Zopalki by Circle
9/10 Mike Staff review, 31 May 2012
Finnish psych-kraut heroes Circle have been going for a bloody long time. Longer than I realised in fact. I knew they had a lot of records (“Albums!”, says Phil, since many never came out on vinyl) but I just figured they were super prolific. Which is probably true as well. Either way, this album (on record!) was recorded in ‘95/’96. Post-rock wasn’t really even a thing yet!
There’s certainly big post-rock elements here though, with slowly building repeated riffs on guitars and keys being the order of the day. It sounds quite a lot like Mogwai in places...or Mogwai sound quite a lot like this I suppose, since it predates the Scots’ influential slow-builds entirely! It’s amazing to me how much of the music coming out now follows this template, taking the rhythms of Neu! and the dynamics and tones of more aggressive rock types to make a chunky, brooding, hypnotic soup of mystical, bone-rattling sounds. Melodically this particular album is actually kind of reminding me of the underrated ‘90s Gravity Recs band Physics, but with a shameless bombast when they get going which is more like recent celebrated kraut riffers CAVE.
If this record was recorded today it’d probably be pigeonholed under the “post-metal” banner (although I’m thinking more along the lines of Grails than Pelican here), but given its origins I think it’s more appropriate to call it “hard kraut” or something like that. It doesn’t succumb to the psychedelic extravagances which certain modern hard kraut types like Gnod or White Hills wallow in, and the disconnect between the rocking riffs and the patient, restrained repetition makes for an ageless, timeless record which really draws the listener into its heady, chiming repeato action. Excellent stuff, well worthy of a nice fancy gatefold reissue like this.
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