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Sunburned Circle, "The Blaze Game"

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cover image Edited down from hours of recordings, this collaboration between America's Sunburned Hand of the Man and Finland's Circle is a thrilling collection of improvisations and jams. Not only is it a great first time partnership but I like it better than a lot of either band's previous recordings. With any luck this is the start of a long-lasting and prolific relationship.

 

Conspiracy

This combination of these two bands works spectacularly well. Both bands retain their own distinctive style but bend their respective methods to fit in with the others' methods. Granted, neither of them had to sacrifice much of their own take on playing as both come from a very similar school of thought where anything goes. The music shifts like scenes in a dream, a solid rhythm one minute falling into a formless squall of delay soaked guitar. The vocals are buried in the mix and are more like cries in the distance than any sort of traditional rock centrepiece.

There is a serious sense of urgency that runs through the first three pieces. This comes to a boil with the frantic jamming on "Heinävelho" where the drums sound like they are being played too fast and too often and everyone is desperately trying to stay together. It sounds incredible, the insistent force of the piece shoving the listener forward whether they want to go or not. This could happily go on for the entire disc but the fadeout at the end of "Vuoren Valloitus" unfortunately brings this chapter of album to a close.

The remainder of The Blaze Game features a looser selection of cuts from the sessions. "Yksi Hirvi, Miljoona Metsästäjää" is undoubtedly the best part of the album (a tall order considering the quality of the other tracks). Here Circle's Krautrocking—which makes their live show so compelling—comes to the fore. The bass leads the rhythm section on and on and on, the other instruments and vocals dance around it before some seriously freaked out saxophone takes things to another level.

I was a bit apprehensive about Sunburned Circle as separately I find both bands to be hit or miss with their studio output. However, these two groups go together like bread and butter. The spark between them seems to come naturally and freely. Each piece becomes its own microcosm where every element of the music works perfectly with the other elements. And one thing that all the tracks have in common is that I could gladly listen to a lot more of any of them. Bearing in mind that these are all culled from longer jams perhaps some day a large box set of unedited recordings might be made available. In the meantime I am more than happy to make do with this fantastic album.

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