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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

New music we like: Circle

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We get a lot of records sent to us here at The A.V. Club. Fortunately, we end up liking some of them. In Playlisted, we share our latest recommendations.


Album: Manner by Circle (out now on Hydra Head)

Press play if you like: Hawkwind, Faust, trances, transcendentalism, Finnishness

Some background: Finland’s Circle has been spinning a heady fusion of exploratory rock and hard-edged psychedelia for 20 years. Its latest album, Manner, is a departure—but only in the sense that every Circle album is a departure, mostly from this plane of existence. During its many celestial crusades, Circle has become a cult band that seems to be perennially rediscovered, just about every time it puts out a new album. Then again, it isn’t fishing for fame; there’s a monastic intensity and joyful purity to Circle’s alchemical rock that begs for a certain, shall we say, headspace to appreciate.

On Manner, Circle founder and multi-instrumentalist Jussi Lehtisalo (who also plays in the stoner-rock outfit Pharaoh Overlord and the hardcore project Split Cranium, the latter with Hydra Head owner and former Isis guitarist Aaron Turner) leads his chant-happy collective through a litany of cosmic phenomena translated into song. In spite of the futuristic undercurrents, Circle proudly roots itself in tradition; the album sports a pulsing, dreamy version of Brian Eno’s “Here Comes The Warm Jets,” and the disc as a whole features copious nods to the progressive opulence of the ’70s. Some tracks—like the pulverizing “Blue King”—take off at a metallic gallop; others, such as “Potero,” harness solar winds and Krautrock loopiness to embark on a protracted, jazzy odyssey that might even be called circular.

Try this: When it comes to Manner’s epic scope, the song “New Fantasy” has it all. Starting out as a loping jam full of effervescent synthesizer and Lehtisalo’s eerie, burbling Fin-speak, it kicks in around the halfway mark, morphing instantly into an operatic, pupil-dilating, proto-metal hallucination.