Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy, aka the Joyful Gadfly! Musician, podcaster, writer, historian ... here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album is unique in some way. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog)

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Circadian Clock ~ Circadian Clock (aka debut) (EP)



(Click on heading to visit official website.)
Style: hard rock, progressive, experimental, alt rock
Label: self-released
Year: 2010
Home: New York City

Members: Vile ~ lead vocals/guitar/violin
Wes ~ drums
Charlemagne ~ bass/vocals
Ayumi ~ keyboards/vocals


When I first head about this local band I was also party to the following e-mail from their vilest singer/guitarist Vile: "We are a young energetic band of classically trained musicians, aged 18, 17, 17 & 15." What immediately catches your eye here? "Energetic"? All bands say that, even the unenergetic shoe-gazers & after a while it doesn't mean much. "Classically trained"? Certainly, though these days it brings up memories of Yngmie Malmsteen rather than the equally classical Emerson, Lake & Palmer or Yes. "Aged 18, 17, 17 & 15"? Definetly. I hate to say that I'm attracted to a band because of the fact they're all in high school over their musical skills, but when you haven't heard their music yet it's a good way of attracting attention. There's nothing wrong taking advantage of your situation to gain a little attention. There's also a vibe to seeing a young musician gain some success cause we all want to say we saw the next Hendrix in the making. As for the music itself, when you get beyond the PR? Their Myspace, which you can visit by clicking the title of this blog, has one of the most interesting responses to this question I've yet to see: "Influences: "MUSE, Coldplay & all the great masters of classical music. I owe most of them a BJ" & "Sounds like when Bach had sex with Van Halen & dropped their baby off in the Bario." Do I have your attention yet? Do they have your attention yet? Now, getting out of bed & back to the music ... Classical music. Yes, it's here & not in a power metal incarnation but more a la Rick Wakeman in Yes or Jordan Rudess in Dream Theater. Classical piano against a rock guitar background, but definetly classical & not just classical-like sounding. Albeit, at times the angular rock rhythms of some of the songs (i.e. "Nocture For The Fallen" & "Lullaby") creates a jarring disjointed affect of cocophonic melody lines creating something that's neither classical nor rock & more a like a baby being dropped off in the Bario. The rhythm is at times so strong, largely propelled by the bass, that it often verges on something feeling akin to a ska beat - or that's at least what I'm waiting to hear happen - which is not something you typically imagine behind classical piano crescendos. Speaking of bass ... I don't know if these tracks have been mixed but they don't sound like it, which is the only problem with the music. However good their songs the poor mix doesn't accentuate the dynamics that are dying to come through. As a bass player I've come to expect variable volumes within the mix with the bass not very prominent, particularly not being the dominate instrument. Even Billy Sheehan & James Jamerson of Motown are in the mix not dominating it. This mix sounds like all instruments are given equal volume, with not a bit too much on the bass, which not just causes the rhythm to override everything but also doesn't allow the cohesiveness of the band to shine through nor the mood of the songs. & when you hear such lyrics as "she deserves to be happy, she really deserves it ... when you know he is lying" mood is a very important ingredient. Vile's vocals actually relay a mood in and of themselves, as she doesn't try to be the next metal opera chick, we've already got enough unoriginal ones to last, nor turn the songs into a scream fest. With a little better mixing you can imagine her vocals floating across the music as the cord that brings together the rock with the classical & all the polyphonic parts going on. Currently, the songs that work best are those which are less polyphonic but where the instruments weave in an out of the arrangement seemingly more or less together, "Lullaby" being a good step in this direction with it's great one bar drum breaks. "Ashes In The Dust", with its hymnal-esque opening falling into orchestral crescendos, is another strong arrangement featuring group highs & lows, where the polyphony, when it happens, works because it's allowed to breathe & not happen at other times. "Soldier Song" has an unexpected soft vocal & acoustic opening along with some equally unexpected electronic keyboard parts instead of normal piano. It's nice hearing the band play with the sounds of their instruments. "Liar" continues the acoustic theme & the "smoked her soul away ... she doesn't understand how beautiful she really is" disheartening socially-relevant lyrics that Circadian Clock lace through all their songs. This song also features the most experimental arrangement with shouted short lines & music to go with it. I'd actually like to hear Vile's voice a bit more prominent as there's some really interesting emotional observations that are crying out to be given their due spotlight. This is a band that might turn out some surprises as they develop out their repertoire & sound & it's with that in mind that I give their repertoire some extra attention.


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