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AXIOM OF CHOICE |by Juriaan Hage Summary

This is the second album of this Norwegian outfit. The cover shows the band has a sense of humour, but it does not exactly make for a cover to look at.

The music

Echoes opens with somewhat nervous repetitive playing. The saxophone player has something to say here, making the music somewhat akin to VDGG. Soon the organist enters the picture giving the music a seventies feel. The vocals have a bit of mellotron preceding them; they give the music a serene feel, while the Rhodes and guitar retreat to the back. This is a more accessible variant of Anekdoten, with a warmness reminiscent of Twin Age. The guitar solo's in the middle give a psychedelic feel. Although the focus is not on vocal harmonies, another reference is Echolyn.

Tiny Lights is a more funky piece of work. Especially the guitar plays in a groovy style here, while the music itself is quite sunny and up-beat. In the middle we enter typical proggy waters, plenty of signature changing here. Focus and Camel are closest here, I guess; that warm woolly feeling. With Red Words the music winds down again. There is something very American about the music, and the lyrics too. The hardly accented vocals of Jacobsen also help. The guitar playing can be pretty hypnotizing here. On the whole the music of Circles End is quite accessible (yet never poppy). However, when you listen closely you notice that there is more to it than that: I notice this especially when I have my earphones on.

On Too Few Feet Jacobsen shows the soul in his voice. He has that kind of timbre. The music alternates here between moody in the verses and the uplifting chorus riddled by seventies organs. This gives the music a very Canterbury like feel, although I also think of Focus a lot. Long Shot is a rather lazy tune with plenty of cymbals, and the majestic guitar in Focus style.

Time for a hard rocking instrumental, Charlie, in which the band lets loose entirely. At Shore contrasts nicely with the former, because of its somber, moody atmosphere. The drums border on jazz, and yes the guitar also. The vocal melody could have done with a bit more distinctiveness. In that sense at least compatriots Gazpacho come off a bit better. Surprisingly, we get a bit of violin on this one (and cello I guess).

Peeping Tom is a mid-tempo piece, with the guitarist playing those repetitive lines, almost like a rhythm guitar, but too melodic. This is an oft occurring pattern in the music of Circles End. The feel is Camel here, but alternating with the more harrowing King Crimson/Anekdoten influence.

We close down with the humourously titled, The Dogfather Has Entered The Lift. This is a very moody opening piece. Subtle organ until the Latin like guitar sets in. Very sensitively played. The main part however is more up-tempo and a bit fiddly.

Conclusion

An updated version of Focus, but surpassing the laid back reunion disc of that band, especially in the composition department. There are also influences of Echolyn and a bit of Anekdoten, but this band is doing their own thing, combining the organ drenched seventies sound with a good vocal presence, concise but varied songs (think Echoyn) and an eye for mood and atmosphere. Towards the end of the album, it shows that the band should be wary of becoming too formulaic. They do evoke a very pleasant and consistent feel on this one.