‘On Circles’ album review
album: On Circles
genre: instrumental rock
release date: January 24, 2020
star rating: four out of five
review by Levi Yager
It seems as though every album Caspian makes is a treat, and their consistency in quality hasn’t faltered with their latest release, On Circles. It’s a genuine piece of art that exposes buried emotion, sails the seas of sorrow, digs its heels in tenacity – and all with a mind for melody. There’s enough here for more than a few re-listens, which is exciting for any music fan.
Caspian kicks off the record with “Wildblood,” one of the many highlights. It starts with multi-layered instrumentation that works to create an air of mystery. Then, it transforms into a massive monster of a song with blazing electric guitar strums and kinetic drumming. “Wildblood” is definitely a great opener.
It’s worth noting that, even though the majority of On Circles is purely instrumental, there are a couple tracks with significant use of vocals. These would be number three, “Nostalgist,” featuring Kyle Dufrey, and the album’s closer, “Circles on Circles.” The singing provides appropriate and welcome variation for the album, and both songs prove to be exceptionally memorable. “Nostalgist” holds the indiscernible heartache that its title implies, and “Circles on Circles” is simply spellbinding.
One of my personal favorites is the seventh song, “Ishmael.” It feels really raw and utilizes captivating, harmonizing strings to carry much of the track before transitioning to electric guitars about halfway through, which become a bolder version of the same melody. “Ishmael” concludes by bringing the strings back into the fold once again, this time accompanied by acoustic guitar noodling and electronic embellishments.
As a whole, On Circles is a wonderful album. It may not be the band’s absolute best work, but it’s a sure success either way. Many of the tracks focus on slow builds, and much of the record is colored a shade of melancholy. Additionally, I believe there are certain characteristics in different songs that are reminiscent – even subtly – of Caspian’s past albums, from Dust And Disquiet all the way back to You Are The Conductor & The Four Trees. These little beckonings, in a way, actually serve this album’s theme and title, coming full circle.