Friday, May 8, 2020

Blue Motion - 1980 - Blue Motion

Blue Motion
Blue Motion

01. Stromboli 14:23
02. Fingers I 0:37
03. Moontales I V 2:29
04. Motions 0:31
05. Fingers I I 0:47
06. Blue Motion 2:57
07. 31/8 1:57
08. Stonehenge 11:53
09. Moontales I I 1:37
10. Motions 1:31
11. Parking 1:13
12. Slow Motion 4:21

Drums, Xylophone – Fritz Hauser
Keyboards – Stephan Ammann
Keyboards – Stephan Grieder

Post-Circus Swiss Symphonic Rock.Former Circus members Fritz Hauser (drums, xylophone) and Stephan Ammann (keyboards) found Blue Motion a few days after their previous band dissolved and recruited a second keyboardist, Stephan Grieder.Their self-titled debut (1980, Amos) has a very suspicious front cover, but comes as an unpredictable twist on a progressive spirit, taking the listener back to the early Emerson, Lake & Palmer days, delivering a sympathetic Prog album with heavy Classical influences, very similar to Germans Ocean.Completely out of fashion music, but there were a few bands from the German-speaking lands, that still insisted on this kind of stuff, and Blue Motion offered passionate, often improvised Classical Prog with lots of electric and grand piano interludes, Hammond organ and some Electronic touches, often passing through Classical Music and light Fusion similar to Schicke, Führs & Fröhling.There are two 10+ min. grand suites in here, ''Strombili'' and ''Stonehedge'', which find the trio in its best form, while the other tracks are very short, like mellow Classical interludes with a soft atmosphere and an ethereal aura.A surprising album for 1980.

Circus - 1980 - Fearless, Tearless And Even Less

Fearless, Tearless And Even Less

01. The Night Step (3:48)
02. Leave It Or Love It (7:33)
03. Berlin (5:04)
04. Fearless, Tearless And Even Less (4:15)
05. Hearts And Spaces (9:40)
06. Manaslu (12:16)

Roland Frei / lead vocals, guitars, tenor saxophone
Stephan Ammann / Hammond C3, ARP Quadra synth
Marco Cerletti / bass, fretless bass, guitar, backing vocals
Fritz Hauser / drums, percussion, vibes

Recorded and mixed at Trident Studios, London, England, march 1980

Circus's last album before calling it a day , although two members will record under the name Blue Motion later that year and Fritz Hauser is well known as a percussionist in jazz circles in Europe. Compared with the great but difficult debut and the masterful Movin 'On , there is a major change in one of the defining area that made Circus very special: the line- up. Almost everybody who has heard their first two albums agrees that what sets them apart is the very unusual line-up with two wind players, no KBs and no electric guitars.Well in this album , Grieder is gone and in comes Amman on KB , and the bassist Cerletti also handles electric guitars. Obviously this changes the sound drastically , but some of the Circus freshness elements evident on previous albums are still present.
Actually , some parallels can be drawn with Movin'On , as side 1 is dedicated to shorter tunes more in the song format, although two of them do come to the level of that album , Leave It and the title track, the other two are definitely sub-par in their range. Obviously the KB add an element that the use partly for the ambiances , partly for the riffs, but the flawless interplay of all four players of the previous album is not so evident here.

Side 2 should be more promising with two long tracks but if Hearts & Spaces is fine, Manaslu takes endless minutes to lift off and is almost over by the time you get to enjoy it. Obviously not as well written and developped as the Movin'On epic , they seem to have needed double the time for this last track to be effective.

As expected Circus's last album is a little different and no repeat performance, but it is still very much worth a spin, although I am probably rounding off my rating to the upper star. Available on bootleg label Tachika, that did a goiod job and it sounds good!

Circus - 1978 - All Star Band Live

Circus All Star Band

01. Eight Miles On A Highway 10:30
02. Drivin' Wheel 6:00
03. Andante Maestro / Rondo Furioso 5:47
04. Augusta Rauricorum 19:00

Acoustic Guitar, Vocals – Roland Frei
Alto Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone – Alan Solomon
Bass – Marco Cerletti
Congas, Drums – Ditschgi Gutzwiller
Congas, Percussion, Vocals – Polo Hofer
Drums – Fritz Hauser
Flute, Alto Saxophone – Andreas Grieder
Guitar – Eric Flückiger
Guitar – Shiver Schafer
Keyboards – Stephan Ammann
Trumpet, Flugelhorn [Fluegelhorn] – Theodor Jost
Vocals – Corina Curschellas, Kathryn Gurewitsch

Recorded live at the Volkshaus Zurich and the Hotel National Berne on january 26th and 27th 1978 with the "Maison Rouge" Mobile Studio London. Mixed at Sinus Studio Berne. Written on cover: "The tracks on this album are excerpts from the concerts we did with the All Star Band in Zurich and Berne 1978. These concerts have been a first step to improve the communication between Swiss Pop-, Rock- and Folkgroups. We hope you enjoy the music as much as the Circus All Star Band enjoyed performing it."

Back in 2016 a regular visitor of the blog requested this album, which I did not have until today courtesy of our Spanish SoulSeek connection, all thanks on this one go to Ezequiel!

''Live'' was a 2-days show by Circus and a collective of Swiss artists with Pop, Folk and Rock backgrounds in an attempt to unite forces from different musical paths.Although the music is definitely lighter and less haunting than Circus' normal albums, it's the Circus spirit that dominates this release, offering interesting Prog/Rock with some psychedelic extensions and jazzy colors, especially in the two 10+ min. tracks, interrupted only occasionally by some poppy flashes.Unlike the previous Circus albums, there is lots of room for electric guitar along with the standard sax intervetions and organ runs.And there is a fair amount of frenetic Van der Graaf Generator-like Prog to be found, showcasing that Circus never actually quit from being a highly intricate group.

Circus - 1977 - Movin' On

Movin' On

01. The Bandsman (4:25)
02. Laughter Lane (4:11)
03. Loveless Time (5:32)
04. Dawn (7:51)
05. Movin' On (22:23)

Roland Frei / lead vocals, acoustic guitar, tenor saxophone
Andreas Grieder / flutes, alto saxophone, tambourine, backing vocals
Marco Cerletti / bass, bass pedals, 12-string acoustic guitar, backing vocals
Fritz Hauser / drums, percussion, vibes

Recorded at Sinus Studio, Berne, May 77

Circus had a reputation for having one of the more uncommon line-up of the genre - no keyboards and no electric guitars. Not so for the guitar for there are bits of it although staying discreet, some sounds I cannot see done other by a guitars through effects. This absolute masterpiece ( I strongly insist on this) gradually builds up to a superb climax progressing from one track to the other. Hauser is a real top-notch percussionist and puts in an impressive performace using all sorts of instruments and makes some of the loveliest vibraphone lines since Greenslade in Colosseum. Bassist Cerletti is the only non-Alemanic Swiss but is certainly a impressive bassist and an acomplished guitar player. Grieder and Frei are simply an amazing duo on wind instruments and and together with Cerletti make a superb vocal section. The music is rather unique in some points making you think of VDGG (mostly the saxes but also in one superb section of singing much better than Hammill himself because more melodious) , but also Maneige during the classical influenced moments , Crimson but IMO not much like Tull although this album is loaded with orgasmic flutes.
Bandsmen is a nice tune poppish but intentionally simple , only the unusual line-up intriguing us enough to go on further. Laughter Lane is quite a gem and a solid progression from the opening track but stays in the song format and one knows that much better is to come but this would be a real gem for any other band. With their third track Loveless Time still in song format , we now move in serious business and we are aware that this will be a real interesting Oeuvre that is to come. Movin' On (get the album title?) with Dawn is entirely instrumental (8 min long) and is one of the better example ever of what descriptive music is , and ranks up with some of the masterpieces of impressionist classical composers of early 20th century. In between some realy gloomy athmospheres at the end of the night to the soothing birds calls and wind breezes to the first rays of the sun, this is simply astounding.

And now comes the "piece de resistance". They could've easily made a suite of this 22 min+ number but chose to let it express itself as an entity of its own. This pieces starts of with the most genial rythms sprinkled with sax and flutes lines and 6 min into the number comes in some scatting (no jazz feeling though) with suddendly one of the three vocalist breaking into another scheme making this grandiose. Bass and flutes take over only for Roland Frei to break into this Hamillian-singing worthy of Pawn Heart. We are now just barely half-way through and are now lying on the floor ready for the final blow , the ultimate nail into our coffin. The music flutters by, twiddles , twirls around you and circles , swirls not giving you an instant to recuperate and now comes the blow. The finals verses are shared in the most beautyful call-and-respond manner so well delivered that if have not shot your intellectual wad by now, you must be frigid or impotent. The number closes of with fabulous music unfortunately (the only slight mistake) sticking to close to my fave number from Crimson , Starless.

Circus - 1976 - Circus


01. Stormsplineter (2:45)
02. Nowadays (10:49)
03. Sundays (6:56)
04. Dawntalk (5:07)
05. Room For Sale (15:07)

Roland Frei / lead vocals, 6- & 12-string acoustic guitars, tenor saxophone
Andres Grieder / flute
Marco Cerletti / bass, bass pedals, guitar
Fritz Hauser / drums, vibes

Recorded at Studio Harald Blobel, Bottmingen, April '76

An interesting and rare album from an under-represented country, progwise. "Circus" contains a handful of great ideas sadly stranded by musical pussyfooting and perhaps too much reverence for the classic bands.
"Stormsplinter" opens, and this reviewer was immediately reminded of Aqualung-era Jethro Tull, not only because of the flauty flourish but also thanks to Mr. Frei's voice, which falls halfway between that of the legendary Ian Anderson and Mr. Goldring from Gnidrolog - I noticed the previous, greatly prolific reviewer also drew parallels with that short-lived band. This puts Circus in good company! "Nowadays" follows and is more expansive, linking fun moments with fragile landscapes, and it has to be said that not all of these segments can hope to keep your attention unless you really like happy prog.

Side A's closer "Sundays" has a little muted Genesis about it, thanks to the sensitive guitar play and arrangement of chords. It's pleasant and gentle if not challenging - perfect lazy summer symph-rock.

The fourth song threatens to be more grandiose, what with rolls of timpani and cymbals and such beautiful melodic twiddling, but thanks to its slow pace and short running time, it never amounts to the crescendo you hope for. Still, it is very unpredictable and rewarding via its individual elements - much more of a composition than a rock "song", and it can be said that it introduces the final, feature-length track well enough...

"Room for Sale" is curious, a song this reviewer found disappointing on some passes and entertaining on others. The lengthy introduction is built on two very familiar chords, has a bit of a jam feel and all in all can be considered a little boring. Heresy, I know, but it gets better from there, with a lovely Tull circa "A Passion Play" feel, all acoustic with traditional but pleasing variations. It may be fulfilling to pay attention to the lyrical story, split into musical chapters.

Despite my misgivings, this is the sort of album that's perfect for fans of Genesis, Camel, Tull et al who are looking for something a little more out of the way. In the end, this is a good collection of positive and refreshing songs that remain upbeat even during their minor or sardonic moments.