Valley Of The Windmill
For 2016, Circa, the band featuring present Yes bassist Billy Sherwood and original Yes keyboardist Tony Kaye that formed in 2007, have released their fourth studio album Valley Of The Windmill. With bassist Ricky Tierney and new drummer Scott Connor, we get four prog rock tunes of swiftly changing layers, blistering guitar lines from Sherwood, and Kaye's keyboards as precise and distinctive sounding as ever.
Surely there are lots of twists and turns here, oftentimes to a slightly whiplash degree where the songs might be overdrawn to getting the point across. But when this band rocks, you hear Conner and Tierney chunking along nicely behind the front men playing off one another, and things working out rather well. The heavy "Empire Over" is Sherwood on heavy riffing, slide work and vocals, while Kaye lays in heavy on his keys under slapping and whacking from the rhythm section. It has all the trademarks of a prog song, but its the melody that sticks with you.
Meanwhile, the acoustical sway of the title track is a nice from all the high flying prog. Horn accents and Kaye's organ at the end slip in a slight Chicago feel. He takes a decidedly different turn on "Our Place Under The Sun," where his mastery comes to full proggy bloom. It's all pretty well played prog rock stuff with solid melodies, but perhaps Valley Of The Windmill is more. Maybe it's modern prog in all its glory, with songs that might stretch out a little longer than they need to. But then again, that's pretty much prog in any era.
~ Ralph Greco, Jr.