Ringworm Interiors

Circus Devils

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Ringworm Interiors Review

by Bart Bealmear

Circus Devils is another in a seemingly never-ending onslaught of projects from Guided by Voices kingpin Robert Pollard. But before dismissing Ringworm Interiors as a side trip you can do without (or even embracing it blindly, as many Pollard disciples do with each release), consider that this album is like no other in his pop canon. By and large, this has to do with the fact that Todd Tobias (he dressed up a couple of tracks on Isolation Drills and is the brother of GBV bassist Tim Tobias, who plays guitar here) creates sound collages that are loud and eerie -- frightening at times. It features psychedelic boat rides that lead to a poorly lit and wicked place, where even the nursery rhymes of youth become foreboding. Beauty dances with ugliness, much like it does in the work of Roman Polanski and David Lynch, filmmakers who are drawn to the amalgam of good and evil that permeates the real world. Furthering the connection, many of Tobias' instrumental beads could be effectively re-scored to works like Twin Peaks and Rosemary's Baby. There are occasional breaks from the intensity (for the melody-driven "You First" and the acoustic-based numbers "Apparent the Red Angus" and "Playhouse Hostage"), but the vibe is always lurking. There's even an attempt near album's end at putting a positive spin on the proceedings with the type of lo-fi arena rock that recalls vintage GBV. But the trio really shines through the darkness when ominous musical warnings are merged with cryptic tales of an unmoral universe, voiced with an unsettling whimsy. The point is made -- even in the brightest of light, "night lurks without a spine."

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 Circus Devils 00:50 SpotifyAmazon
2 Circus Devils 01:05 SpotifyAmazon
3 Circus Devils 02:33 SpotifyAmazon
4 Circus Devils 01:38 SpotifyAmazon
5 Circus Devils 01:15 SpotifyAmazon
6 Circus Devils 00:18 SpotifyAmazon
7 Circus Devils 00:54 SpotifyAmazon
8 Circus Devils 01:38 SpotifyAmazon
9 Circus Devils 02:42 SpotifyAmazon
10 Circus Devils 01:05 SpotifyAmazon
11 Circus Devils 00:43 SpotifyAmazon
12 Circus Devils 01:40 SpotifyAmazon
13 Circus Devils 01:06 SpotifyAmazon
14 Circus Devils 00:26 SpotifyAmazon
15 Circus Devils 03:00 SpotifyAmazon
16 Circus Devils 00:42 SpotifyAmazon
17 Circus Devils 01:22 SpotifyAmazon
18 Circus Devils 01:59 SpotifyAmazon
19 Circus Devils 02:40 SpotifyAmazon
20 Circus Devils 01:25 SpotifyAmazon
21 Circus Devils 00:45 SpotifyAmazon
22 Circus Devils 01:46 SpotifyAmazon
23 Circus Devils 01:12 SpotifyAmazon
24 Circus Devils 01:26 SpotifyAmazon
25 Circus Devils 03:10 SpotifyAmazon
26 Circus Devils 01:35 SpotifyAmazon
27 Circus Devils 02:42 SpotifyAmazon
28 Circus Devils 01:00 SpotifyAmazon
blue highlight denotes track pick