Circle

Guillotine

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Circle's Guillotine starts off with the ten-minute "Metsän Henget," instantly recognizable as a departure for the band as a jazzier affair, with the familiar Circular riffs stripped down to clean guitar, pulsing bass, and mellifluous Rhodes organ, with vocalist/bassist/founder Jussi Lehtisalo momentarily dropping his usual quasi-metal histrionics for deranged scat singing (as usual again in a language that may be his native Finnish or more likely his made-up "Meronian" tongue). This album from 2003 marked yet another detour for these iconoclastic Finnish upstarts, who early on updated, via heavy guitar riffage, the Motorik style developed by German Krautrock pioneers from the '70s such as Faust, Neu! and Can, then subsequently flirted with myriad genres such as psychedelic, folk, noise, prog, post-rock, and even a mock-metal/hobbit rock hybrid (their cannily monikered "New Wave of Finnish Heavy Metal"), all the while somehow managing to maintain their signature Circular motif. This album comes from what could aptly be described as Circle's "difficult" period, as the accessibility of their previous albums has been mostly abandoned in favor of experimental textures and unconventional arrangements. That is not to say that it's any less captivating. While some tracks, like the unhinged free folk "Harva Maa," the beatless audio collage "Päätön Mies," the musique concrète exercise "Majakkasaari," and the Beefheart-ian jazz jam "Saapuvat Ne Merelta" venture clear off the deep end into hitherto uncharted territory, even for Circle. Others, like the 12-minute "Teräskylpy" and 15-minute "Alta Rautatammien," will comfort fans with Circle's trademark hypnotic repetition. At 75-plus minutes total, this is an overwhelming release from a totally unique band that has been consistently prolific and mind-blowing.

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