Review Summary: An haze of psychedelic delight.
There is a certain spellbinding allure that seems to draw the listener into the very center of Circles
. Its music is mystical and eccentric, yet surprisingly accessible. The instruments are drenched in harmonic distortion and technical alterations, creating a sonic fog manifested by sounds that emanate a hypnotic haze. Just like Mazes
before it, Circles
is yet another venture into the realms of dissonant psychedelia, but while also aspiring to be less experimental and more impactful. The album opens with its definitive highlight, "Sleepwalker"
, a song comprised by a melodic wall of droning soundscapes. A continual rhythmic groove directs the music of the song, one embellished with repetitive guitar arrangements and cosmic synthesizer ornaments that imitate a subtle Indian aesthetic.
Another highlight of the album is "Trails"
. A mellifluous and trancing piece that guides our senses into a calming ambience. There is an insistence on a singular melodic sequence that propels most of the songs in the album, and that could either be appealing or utterly diverting for the listener. Like several artists that dwell in shoegaze and noise pop, Moon Duo emphasize on a monotonous musical sound meant to imitate the illusion of hypnosis. And quite frankly, they do succeed in that particular aspect. Circles is embellished with intriguing instrumental thematics and drug-induced lyrical imagery that are sung with a mellow tone so as to augment that euphoric state of mind. Each song is orchestrated under a similar formula, one deployed by indulging in excessive amounts of reverberation and feedback, constructing a wall of sound that is then ornamented with decorative psychedelic effects. And yet even with the album's relentless repetitive nature, the music surpassingly approaches its minimalism with euphonic appeal. A song like "Sparks"
perfectly exemplifies the essence of Circles. "Sparks"
is entirely composed by layers of cacophonic sounds that are complimented with upbeat drum patterns and catchy vocal arrangements. Blending the anarchical nature of noise textures with the more mellifluous aesthetic of pop structures. It may not be a style of psychedelic music that is instantly lucid, but it does operate under a pleasing melodic demeanor.
is yet another captivating moment in Circles, and one of the few songs that manages to follow its own unique path. "Rolling Out"
expresses a very prominent influence from 1960's blues rock rather than dissonant shoegaze, giving the music a rather melancholic mood. The guitar abilities of Ripley Johnson really flourish in this song as he executes some of the most technically complex arrangements found on the album. Overall, Circles does prove itself to be an accomplished effort, but it contributes nothing innovative to the psychedelic music scene. It's a rather standard shoegaze album, and one that often relies on the same bag of tricks to capture the attention of the listener. But nevertheless, the appeal of the album can't be denied. It may be a rather generic addition to its affiliated genres, but it is at least a cohesive and enjoyable one at that. Circles is certainly entertaining, but because it has no distinguishing qualities, it's not necessarily infectious. Offering its audience nothing more than a typical psychedelic journey, a musical voyage through metaphysical dimensions meant to riddle the senses with a haze of cosmic delight.