Caspian
On Circles


4.5
superb

Review

by Dewinged CONTRIBUTOR (70 Reviews)
January 28th, 2020 | 165 replies


Release Date: 01/24/2020 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Now and then, the shadow remains.

I have seen my fair share of winters at this time and age. Rays of sunshine gently melting the snow, branches trembling to the soft touch of the morning wind, and thin layers of ice carefully fracturing under the fickle weight of fallen leaves... I've learnt through the years to gaze upon the timeless landscape while breathing it all, patiently, as if it was my last breath in the presence of such an overwhelming splendor. Now and then, like nothing has changed, while drifting astray from my thoughts as I feel them being torn apart from my conscience by every single note and beat from Caspian's latest release.

Now and then, On Circles.

It's in this fictional setting, the proper one, where I find myself gravitating around the follow up to that blissful cornerstone for the genre that was 2015's Dust and Disquiet, refraining from falling into pointless comparisons, because that was then, and this is now. And even Philip Jamieson (guitar, vocals) repels the tempting thought, neglecting evolution as some sort of mandatory requirement for the future, peeling off the importance of the continuum for a band like Caspian, who prefer to work it out in an environment where everything is far simpler, and at the same time, fiercely effective.

It seems that with On Circles, there was no intent in doing anything different, or better. Instead, it was just natural order, applied to the way the band writes, carving out the rot of ambition and leaving the essence of their music barely untouched, sustained by what is just a long-time running friendship. "Wildblood" proves this in no time. My mouth forms a stupid smirk of joy when the distant cries of a sax and the dystopian soundscape are shattered by a crushing wave of guitars splashing my ears with a single, perfect note. This is the Caspian we know and love, back, as good as ever. The drums slowly surface, and the record starts its pace, like a colossus rising from an avalanche, first with firm step and then with grace and refinement. The work on the drums specially, is magnificent, both thanks to new hard hitter Justin Forrest and to Will Yip's immense production.

"Flowers of Light" paints the album of a different color. Free from the cold hands of winter, it becomes a blooming ecstasy celebrating some sort of musical spring in which the band collectively pleasure themselves in fraternal unison. And then comes the quiet of night, and the first surprise of On Circles. Kyle Durfey, from post-hardcore brotherhood Pianos Become The Teeth, immediately floors my judgement with a beautiful vocal performance in "Nostalgist". Caspian here chrysalises into a different entity for a moment, mirroring bands like The Appleseed Cast, recreating something of their own while making past and present coalesce to form a truly breathtaking tune.

The middle section of On Circles treats euphoria with a wiser tone. "Division Blues" starts calmly, allowing acoustic guitars, chiming bells and a myriad of echoing notes to build up one of the best crescendos of the album, a craft to which Caspian has devoted themselves fervently over the years, as those last seconds of the track show with epic rapture. "Onsra" is significantly more serene, along with "Division Blues", Caspian find themselves gliding over the sands of a mild summer like a breeze. You can almost feel the tide rising in the last seconds of "Onsra", ultimately contained before unleashing the storm that is "Collapser". Those of you rising your fist to the sky craving for the harder side of Caspian will be compensated with a flood of riffs. The four-minute typhoon wreaks havoc with unrelenting force, shaking mountains like they were made from silk.

Approaching the end of this journey through the seasons there is "Ishmael", the longest track of the album, a pacifying lullaby conducted by guest cello player Jo Quail that evokes the crimson tones of autumn, the nurturing scent of wet soil in the air after the rain. The melodies weaved here by Caspian are genuine, skillfully interlaced with Quail's cello, ascending to a summit of post rock majesty and cascading down like a stream through the forest, sundered into countless brooks that flow into the intimate warmth of the closing "Circles on Circles". This is a song that makes a little history for Caspian, and it does so by having the very own Philip Jamieson, acoustic in hand, delivering a delightful vocal performance for a song that feels more like the post rock twin of Bon Iver than the similar affair they had with Tanner Merritt from O'Brother for the blissful "Run Dry", back in the days of Dust and Disquiet.

With On Circles, Caspian has managed to distil a mighty brew for their collection, an album that doesn't fall into the unfathomable and often too dense lengths of the genre, but that chooses instead to keep things compact, far more inviting to iterate along its forgiving length, while still allowing for heart racing finales and unraveling instrumental passages. Now and then, and after countless spins, Caspian's shadow remains.



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user ratings (143)
3.7
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
January 28th 2020


18060 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

First listen was a 4.5, then something bothered me and 4'd it and now I'm in love again.



What an album.



You can listen to the whole thing on bandcamp: https://caspiantheband.bandcamp.com/album/on-circles



But you will inevitably crack, give in and buy it, cause it's gooooood.



Enjoy it, people.

Digging: The Haxan Cloak - The Haxan Cloak

calmrose
January 28th 2020


5454 Comments


band's consistently awesome, excited to jam

Digging: The Hotelier - Home, Like NoPlace Is There

JayEnder
January 28th 2020


6439 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yesss finally a review for this! And who else gets the honor but the legend himself Dewinged :]

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
January 28th 2020


18060 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Doubt I made it justice but I tried! What is important is that we have now a thread to GUSH about how good this is for the rest of the year haha

calmrose
January 28th 2020


5454 Comments


i love that album cover

JayEnder
January 28th 2020


6439 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Review is excellent man. And yeah, I'm just happy we can all collectively cry over this masterpiece.



Division Blues has grown to be my favorite probably. Collapser too, fuckkk. So many A tier tracks.



Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
January 28th 2020


18060 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks dude, Collapser is a beast. I am in love with Flowers of Light, also love Nostalgic.

Nocte
Contributing Reviewer
January 28th 2020


11521 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Current album/year for you then?

JohnnyoftheWell
Contributing Reviewer
January 28th 2020


21507 Comments


Oh damn, must check/read this

Digging: Jida - Lucid

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
January 28th 2020


18060 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

For now, yes, but the competition hasn't been very fierce honestly, and I haven't listened to as many albums as in past years at this point.



Nevertheless, I'd be surprised if Pure Reason Revolution's comeback is not my AOTY honestly.

JayEnder
January 28th 2020


6439 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Lets hope Pianos Become the Teeth's new album sounds more like Nostalgist... What a banger.



This is easy AOTY so far.

LelandAB
January 28th 2020


574 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Wildblood whips ass, probably my favorite so far



calmrose
January 28th 2020


5454 Comments


Nostalgist is gorgeous, Durfey's guest spot is awesome

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
January 28th 2020


18060 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Agree, fell in love with the track at first listen. He fits in perfectly.

AcmeApathyAmok
January 28th 2020


777 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great album. Personally, I dig how each and every track is incredibly strong individually but put all of them together and you've got an album's worth of bangers. It didn't take much effort for me to give in and buy it cause I did exactly that the next day lol. Lucked out on an indie store variant. Really looking forward to hearing these songs live in a few months.

That said, I have so much sentimental attachment towards Dust and Disquiet that I can't bring myself to score any higher than a 4 for now. Wouldn't be surprised if I do bump it eventually.

TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
January 28th 2020


18890 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

Great review, sounds like I’ll love this. D&D was outstanding.

Digging: Tame Impala - The Slow Rush

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
January 28th 2020


18060 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

You will Talons, specially if you liked D&D.

Sniff
January 28th 2020


6141 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Should've known Quail by ear. Disappointed i didn't

Digging: Nasvikensmaffian - Outlaw Chiptune-Strike 1.6

MiloRuggles
January 28th 2020


328 Comments


Oh fuck yeah. Great review. Been a hot minute since I listened to Caspian, stoked to have a new reason to

Nocte
Contributing Reviewer
January 28th 2020


11521 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Feel like I'm probably going to settle this around a 4/5 for now. Which basically puts it into the top 10 (as of this comment) for the years best of potential.



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