Every Record I Own - Day 205: Circle Miljard
Today we start talking about the experimental Finnish rock group Circle. Much like Japan’s Boris, the group began in the early ‘90s and have spent nearly three decades churning out a substantial cache of studio albums, live recordings, and various off-shoot projects. And like Boris, there is a temptation to assign a trademark sound to their output, even if the band is in a constant state of exploration. Despite all their forays and experiments, Boris are ultimately the masters of the gargantuan psych-tinged sludge riff. If I had to attach a signature sound to Circle, it would be a repetitious, continuously modulated, heavily layered take on NWOBHM. Imagine early Judas Priest meets Lungfish or Motörhead meets Neu! and you get a vague idea of their modus operandi.
But like Boris, attempting to box Circle into a sound is a bit of a fool’s errand. Miljard, for instance, has absolutely none of the aforementioned classic metal riffs or minimalist hypnotic structures. Instead, the two-hour-long album is an exercise in subdued improvisations. Centered primarily around piano, Miljard sounds like a collection of somber textural exercises captured over the course of a long Finnish winter. It feels like a pocket of warmth in the heart of the Arctic cold.
This is one of those records that I put on during the day while I’m answering emails or focusing on writing projects. It sets a mood without creating a distraction. I last listened to it on Saturday during a flight from Austin to Seattle while I finished reading Patti Smith’s M Train. It was the perfect soundtrack to Smith’s examinations of loss and growth, and finding warmth in an unforgiving world.