Alternative music reviews

July 1, 2008

“Welcome to Elizabethan Jupiter…” – Circulus, Dulcimer, Manchester, 26/06/2008

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Chorlton’s Dulcimer Bar (“Fine Ale and Finer Folk”) hosts the frankly weird and quite refreshingly wonderful world of Circulus. To call Dulcimer a venue is stretching it a little – this is more like watching a gig in your front room (although to be strictly accurate those of us who remember the former incarnation as Quarmby’s stationers know it as the erstwhile toys and games department). Sam and the Plants entertain with a variety of arcane instruments and world weary lyrics railing at the futility of modern life (“bastard son of John Cooper-Clarke and Ivor Cutler”, quoth a fellow audience member) leading to their final number which builds intriguingly around a loop created with a bottleneck-played home-made zither.

How to describe Circulus’s dress sense? Looking like a bunch of extras from Blackadder II (with a soupcon of Viz’s ‘Real Ale Twats’) in hats, capes, and pointy shoes, Circulus take to the stage and announce that they will be playing their new (as yet unreleased) third album. Nods are made to UFOs and extra-terrestrial visitors until, a few songs in, ‘Sumer is icumen in’ ROCKS, with a faultlessly simple chorus – ‘Sing, Cuccu!’, and you begin to realise that under all the madrigal twiddlings, Tyack is a damn fine guitarist. Finishing with old favourites ‘My body is made of Sunlight’ and ‘Power to the Pixies’, and then a bonus re-run of ‘Sumer is icumen in’, the audience is sent home happy. Seeking mediaeval inspiration is not in itself new – Gryphon and Amazing Blondel spring to mind – but Circulus marry this with vintage 70’s space-rock a la Hawkwind/Gong. It was probably no coincidence that ‘Hurry on Sundown’ was played during the interval… now covered by Vetiver, who played here earlier in the month. Now just WHAT is going on here?

A video of ‘My Body Is Made Of Sunlight’:

Review by Big Dave

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