CD Title: The Universal Mirth
Label: Independent (2018)
Rating: Loved this one…another favorite for 2018. Recommended
I have to say this is a band and an album that really caught me by surprise. It’s REALLY, REALLY GOOD! This is trio based in the UK Midlands that takes their musical muse from some of my favorite bands such as XTC, Marillion, Genesis, Pink Floyd and It Bites. That said, they’ve immersed all those distinct influences into their own sound which to my ears is classic modern symphonic Progressive Rock. Encircled avoid the heavy, crunchy guitar chops, and while the guitar is still very much present as part of the sound they choose to take the early seventies approach where all instruments serve the song. If any instrument does stand out, well that would be keyboards, complete with both old and new sounds. I love the way these guys write. Many of their songs are full of rich, warm melodies that make way for some absolutely thrilling musical interludes where Bolero-styled musical swells build and build a la “Starship Trooper”. It’s the kind of musical approach that sends thrills up and down my spine, making my hair stand on end. Encircled are also adept at taking a song, just about as far as you think it can go, and then like pulling a rabbit out of a hat, they build on those earlier passages to take the song even higher. Full of musical and lyrical drama, gorgeous ascending and descending lines, tension and release, massive major chord crescendos and climaxes, WOW. For me it was a thrilling listen to hear what they might do next and they rarely disappointed. I was also taken with the vocal tone, softer, yet assured it reminded me of bands like Fractal Mirror. Kind of a mix of IQ and Greenslade. I really loved The Universal Mirth and the more I listened to it, the more I realized this is an album that needs to be on my favorites of 2018. Highly recommended!