In some way ARGOS' new effort points to the predecessor debut which basically was divided in three parts, bearing references to different music styles and bands. But this time they obviously avoid a clear distinction and mix them all up across the album respectively even within the particular songs. So you will find a tricky blend of canterbury, eclectic and symphonic elements ... with the emphasis on the latter as for my impression. They are a quartet now due to the addition of Rico Florcak which surely gives the guitar more importance.
This new album was completely worked out on their own with love for detail (recording, mixing, mastering, cover artwork). While exploring the booklet the front cover is something to think about especially. The circle according to the album title - built up by a marching band which probably are representing the vintage retro aspect of the album. Finally we have the @ char which stands for the modern internet dominated society. And indeed you will find several comments within the song notes pointing to inspirations taken from several websites, speaking of the lyrics for example.
To pick up some impressions from diverse songs now ... the short keyboard dominated Sammelsurium covers some german recitative and a fantastic drive due to Ulf Jacobs' intriguing drum work. Or on the contrary just take the wonderful eclectic ballad Custody Of The Knave - when I hear Robert Gozon singing the lead vocals I'm often remembered at Peter Hammill. Lines On The Horizon seems to be the most charming one, very melodic with delicate flute and keyboard support (including mellotron) ... so much the more provided with stunning variety. Everytime I come to this song it sounds different somehow. Or to describe it in another way - and this basically fits for most of the songs - what seems to be relatively simple at first proves to be something tricky finally.
A Thousand Years musically expresses some sort of optimism as for my impression, a strong, powerful and excited exemplar - at least matching for some parts. Speaking of Sun And Moon next I want to mention the impressing guitar contributions. The symphonic The Gatekeeper is decorated with some Erich Kästner poetry (excerpts of 'Der Oktober') - an epic which is comparable to Big Big Train's masterpiece 'The Underfall Yard'. Nearly working in the same way Lost On The Playground is pointed out as the true showcase of their new band member ... and indeed, you will hear Rico Florcak alternating between riffing rhythm and soaring solo guitar work.
So far so good ... even if two or three tracks lose potential a bit 'Circles' can be already counted among the 2010 big hits. The compositions are surely picking up influences from diverse prog bands. However, the songs are ARGOS typical in the end, compact - which means melody, melancholy, instrumental and vocal variety, short solos, turns and breaks are blended to something fresh and impressing. This is the real deal - they have worked out an entertaining album. 'Circles' is dedicated to lovers of charming prog songs provided with a symphonic and canterbury outfit - highly recommended! ARGOS Circles music reviews and MP3 ( Review from progarchives.com)
Songs / Tracks Listing 1. Sammel Surium (2:49)
2. Closed Circle (4:36)
3. A Thousand Years (8:12)
4. Lines On The Horizon (5:48)
5. Sun And Moon (3:36)
6. Custody Of The Knave (6:04)
7. The Gatekeeper (7:51)
8. Willow Wind (3:13)
9. Total Mess Retail (3:47)
10. Lost On The Playground (8:17)
11. Progology (5:16)
Line-up / Musicians - Thomas Klarmann / bass, flute, keyboards, guitars, lead vocals (4,8,9)
- Robert Gozon / lead vocals, keyboards, guitars
- Ulf Jacobs / drums, percussion, Roland DM, vocals
- Rico Florcak / electric guitar
- Michael Hahn / electric guitar
- Dieter Guntermann / soprano sax