Caspian - On Circles

24 Jan 2020 - Thorsten

Post-Rock | Triple Crown Records | Release date: 24 Jan 2020

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The New England Institution For Post-Rock and its Variations is back with another album - where should one place in the context of their whole body of work?

When studying literature (or any kind of art, that is) at university one always faces several ways of interpreting a piece of art: Biographical (putting it into the context of the artist’s whole oeuvre and life), Genre-related (comparing it to other works from the same genre), work-immanent (only looking it the piece of art itself), gender-related, historical, political and so on.

If a release like the first full-length by Massachusetts-based sextet Caspian in more than five years is announced, huge waves are bound to be stirred up – and man, they were stirred up, as soon as they announced it and then quickly followed with the first single “Flowers of Light”. So, maybe it is a good idea to look at such a release by taking the first three approaches to measuring it

Doing so, we can say that Caspian are… … still a unique band within their genre because their ‘Explosions’ are not like an ‘Emperor’ enraged by “Circles” of ‘Mono’-schematics with a foreseeable final eruption of sheer force and will; they are still the most introvert of the big names in the post-rock realms, akin to maybe GY!BE if you want a comparison. (By the way, using the allusions above is not intended to take away anything from the magnificence of the bands alluded to). Listen to the small but highly effective use of the vibraphone in “Onsra” – that shows the quiet nature of the band quite well.

… maybe the post-rock band most willing to incorporate lyrics and real vocals into their sound, something they have done before and that is very nicely re-visited with Kyle Durfey’s guest vocals on “Nostalgist”: in no way an unwelcome thing as they show the band’s calm indie-rock appeal in a very natural way. On the other side, Caspian are also open to new things in their sound-universe, as the electronic parts in “Flowers of Light” show.

… able to write songs that are like chapters to an uplifting book about a positive future. The songs of On Circles can give hope when needed. This, however, does not mean that the band is unable to flex their muscles and give us some riffs – hear the shredding and the hard bass of “Collapser” – but even if the song is heavy in nature there can still be some guitar lines in major-tuning so that it’s not like the world is collapsing over us, no we are walking through fire towards the extinguisher named future.

… back finally and in good shape! Hoping, we don’t have to wait another half-decade.