14 October 2013
by Ruth Booth
No matter how much stock we put on what’s inside, first impressions count. For former Future Hits subjects, Circles, their last EP The Compass established them as an earthier Periphery, sort of a Pendulum-y djent or a prog Enter Shikari with more bass-dropping. So, when their debut album Infinitas kicks off with flute, soft vocals and spine-chilling bar chimes, alongside one of the most triumphant anti-hero lead-offs you’ll hear in 2013, you get the sense someone wants a do-over.
Well, perhaps not a do-over, but Circles have developed a certain balance over the last two years. While those sugary squeaks and streaks are still there, it no longer sounds at times like Skrillex fighting Textures for control of the mixing desk. There’s a touch of Incubus too – not just the nifty bongos on there (‘Erased’ and ‘The Signal’, bongos fans), but in the sense that they can handle both the acoustic and the heavier stuff with equal aplomb, and blend it in a way that makes sense.
Alongside that is their skill with a chorus. The melodic vocals of Perry Kakridas have a touch of Eric Kahlsbeek about them – there’s some glorious honeycomb-chewing harmonies – and they’ve got more ideas for stuffing them into crowd singalongs than Brandon Boyd’s had sudden mid-song hot flushes. Each track on Infinitas features some kind of anthem-worthy stanza – in fact, ‘Ground Shift’ boasts two different rabble rousers, in case they ever lose one behind the fridge or something.
Of course, that means a fair whack of LA morning motivational shiz – ‘On My Way’, boasts an intro straight out of every Californian city teen drama ever, and a possible future direction for 30 Seconds To Mars should they ever go prog. Yet taken together this isn’t all that shiny-whiny. My first thought on Infinitas was: where did all the warp go? Circles have always had a nice meaty crunch to their riffs, yet towards the end of the album, it gets harder to say, “ah, there’s the signal to dance like Thom Yorke having a fit.”
But Circles have always been anthemic and poppy – and it’s not to say that the hip-grinding drum and bass touch isn’t welcome, but Infinitas shows Circles also developing some impressive sonic depth with it. Blink and you’d miss the bar chimes on ‘Erased‘, but that’s what’s making your hair stand on end.
Watch the video to ‘Another Me’ by Circles:
It’s not showy or gimmicky. If you met Infinitas at a party, it’d be the approachable guy in the Pendulum hoodie and Journey t-shirt – not the loud one, but the smart and level-headed chap who made sure you never were without a drink. This is an album of well-rounded anthemic prog that mixes brain-tickling tech rhythm with not only electro flourishes but the beginnings of impressive atmospheric depth. As first impressions go, it’s a promising one for a band who’ll soon be, quite unselfconsciously, nudging Periphery for the genre’s popular kid status.
Sounds like – Don’t Stop Having A Blast Of Green
Standout Tracks – Erased, Ground Shift, On My Way, As It Is Above