It's an interesting coincidence that there have been two totally different experimental bands named Circle. The first Circle was a challenging, AACM-minded avant-garde jazz group that was active in 1970 and 1971 and included Chick Corea, Anthony Braxton, Dave Holland, and Barry Altschul. The Circle heard on Raunio didn't come along until 1991 -- 20 years after the breakup of the other Circle -- and embraces progressive rock instead of avant-garde jazz. But as different as the two bands are, they have one thing in common: both believe in pushing the musical envelope. Raunio, which was released on the Ektro label in Finland in 2001 before coming out on Squealer in the U.S. in 2002, isn't for those who are only interested in hearing a standard verse/chorus/verse/chorus format -- this CD is a lot more involved and has many different twists and turns. Parts of Raunio, which was recorded live in various Finnish cities, are calm, reflective, and mindful of European chanting and spiritual traditions. Other times, however, the Finnish band rocks aggressively, turns up the amps, and engages in some very tripped-out, free-spirited jamming. Some parts of Raunio are oddly peaceful; other parts get in your face. So which is the more appealing side of Circle? Actually, both sides are appealing, and both are equally important parts of Circle's overall presentation. The calm parts end up benefiting the intense, rocking parts, and vice versa. Like other progressive rock CDs, Raunio has too many different twists and turns to be fully absorbed on the first listen. But the more times you listen to Raunio, the more times you will realize how much this disc has to offer.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson