CD Title: Valley of the Windmill
Label: Frontier Records (2016)
Rating: Brilliant 5/5
This is studio album number four for Circa and I have to say right off the top I loved every minute of it’s fifty-minute playing time. There is something to be said, about being in the “right mood” to listen to something and how that impacts your response to it. Well I was clearly in the “right mood” when I put Valley of the Windmill on the player. I picked up the disc on a bit of flyer, not really being able to really identify their sound, other than I trusted who was in the band – namely Billy Sherwood and Tony Kaye along with Scott Conner and Rick Tierney. Wow – these four compositions embody everything I like about the classic symphonic Prog sound marrying those elements with plenty of modern sounds and melodies. The net results are tunes that in many ways sound a little like YES from many different eras, but end up sounding better than much of the recent YES material. I realize that may sound sacrileges, but that’s that way it comes across. The vocals have that Chris Squire harmony sound, the guitar every so often gives up a little Steve Howe and keyboards and bass are solid performers, nothing overly flashy but present in every way. The longer two songs, “Silent Resolve” [14:41] and the closing “Our Place Under the Sun” [18:43] are composed joining a variety of different song segments that easily flow one into another. The overall sound is grand and majestic, hiding nothing. Big chords break out into nice meaty riffing from guitar or Hammond organ and then everything changes and goes in a different feel or different direction. Vocals incorporate plenty of harmony segments offering up a nice contrast in that department. Full of stops and starts, sometimes the music rocks and sometimes it rolls but wherever it goes it always comes back around to some polished musical performance. I just loved the musical feel created by Circa. If you’ve been unhappy with the latest musical offerings from YES, I urge you to check this disc out. With all that in mind, I’m giving this disc a solid five out of five. Highly recommended.