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Composed especially to accompany a forthcoming BBC documentary on vaudevilles and circuses, Circe is the product of Georg Holm, Orri Páll Dyrason, Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson and Kjartan Holm (mostly members of affiliates of Sigur Ros). The record is a continuous, pulsing instrumental thing, sounds quite wonderful. On Krunk.
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The BBC are aware of one band, Sigur Ros, and one style, grandiose posturing, so they’ve filled their documentary about circus life with the usual: grandiose posturing by someone that at least has something to do with Sigur Ros. Circe involves several members of the Sigur Ros collective, who craft an instrumental adaptation of their sound based around crystalline samples, dulcet piano melodies and programmed beats that wouldn’t have been out of place on that Inventions record. Breaking into a second wind on opener “Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls”, the band invoke brass as brassy as the National in their ‘High Violet’ era, setting this record up to be as self-serious and self-involved as possible.
Circe’s sound is, to their credit, occasionally diversified to sound outside of the BBC mission statement: the spectral, discordant drone of “Hyperbole” is accompanied by noises recorded out in that thing we call the field, and I’m sure it scores footage of a person dangling off a trapeze better than your average ‘Takk’ ripoff could. Moments like this offer something completely out of these artist’s comfort zones: it’s threatening, discomforting music, but it’s put alongside neo-classical pop like “The Eternal Feminine”, which attempts to shroud itself in a drone haze to disguise its placating wallpaper sound. There’s plenty going on here (check the abstracted psych guitar rawk of “To Boris With Love”), but as a record it feels muddled, aiming for the widescreen and panoramic instead of following through on interesting ideas. I haven’t seen the footage. I imagine it’s in slow motion.
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