Release Date: 24/01/2020
Record Label: Triple Crown Records
For Fans Of: maybeshewill, Boards of Canada, Mogwai
There’s the notion that certain albums ‘continue to give’ upon each listen; like a never ending levelling system, you come one step closer to cracking its core. Perhaps we band that term around too much, or perhaps Caspian do it so much better than you thought possible. On their fifth album, On Circles, Caspian trivialise the idea that an album can continue to give and have written something that takes form, breathes and grows in all it’s epicness and vitality.
Caspian have become known for many things throughout their years; defined as a band who expertly craft lush expanses of music that are both conceptual and visceral, they’ve also been characterised by their perfection. The Massachusetts post-rock sextet have this way of writing songs that sound like every note is followed by its perfect counterpart. On Circles is the equal to the band’s last classic Dust and Disquiet in every way.
Each song on the album exists with its own concept and all come with surprises and musical treats. From the cello of Jo Quail on ‘Ishmael’ to the vocals of Kyle Durfey (Pianos Become the Teeth) on the swirling ‘Nostalgist’, Caspian prove exactly how they always know where to go next. ‘Collapser’ is a Lord of the Rings level of epic and ‘Flowers of Light’ is a battle of nature conveyed through music. So much emotion and story is conjurer up through the use of instruments and the band allow room for personal interpretations to grow. Each song builds masterfully, they never feel like people playing instruments but like nature taking its course (pretentious but true).
Perhaps it may come as a surprise that such a dynamic instrumental epic can be produced expertly by Will Yip (of Turnstile and Code Orange fame) but it speaks to the producer’s penchant for managing impact without overdrawing passages. Perhaps the stand out moment is the culmination of all parties in the closing ballad-eqsue ‘Circles on Circles’. One of the few songs employing the use of vocals, it’s magic from the guitar that leads to the background instrumentals and lyrics.
Throw in every cliché about what makes music great and Caspian have done it in On Circles. It’s clear throughout the record that the band are pushing themselves and their capabilities, the vocal lines in ‘Circles on Circles’ are a special achievement being both emotive and hooky. Caspian are furthering post-rock with every release and have again added a new name to the list of gold-standard records. There’s not a note to be changed on this album, no moment that doesn’t feel weighty or passage of time that fails to transport the mind. And the best part? With more listens it will only get better.