“Valley of the Windmill”

By Dr. Abner Mality

In the dim and murky depths of antiquity, when Dr. Mality was a mere hatchling, there was a time when progressive rock was my music of choice. Yes and ELP were some of the very first bands I ever admired, before the likes of Kiss and Black Sabbath started me down a different path. Long-time Wormwood readers will know right off the bat that Dark Starr is our reigning king of prog, but I still have a love for this music deep within me.

That brings me to the latest from Circa, a band who’s roots go back to the early day of Yes. Tony Kaye from those days is the guy who makes Circa go. He’s joined by Billy Sherwood, who’s also done time in Yes. “Valley of the Windmill” really takes me back to the days when Yes ruled and Genesis was still a real prog band. It contains four LONG songs that not only don’t reject the prog excess of old but gleefully embraces them. The opening track “Silent Resolve” is a 15 minute epic and my God, it is impossible to conceive of a more iconic prog rock song in 2016. Full of brilliant keyboard and guitar interplay, this gets my brain cells going. Despite its length, the song flows well and never outstays its welcome. Of course, it’s not metal, but it is very guitar based and upbeat.  Sherwood’s nasal vocals also come from an elder age of prog. “Empire Over” is a “mere” 9 minutes plus and is even more pleasant to listen to. This is certainly better than anything Yes itself has done in years and also has a strong Asia feel to it. An excellent prog track!

Unfortunately, the next 2 songs don’t measure up to the first two. The title track is a lighter, more melodic tune with pleasant acoustic guitar. The problem here is that it becomes very repetitive towards the end, making it seem longer than “Silent Resolve” even though it is the shortest track on the album. Then the record concludes with the 18 minute monster “Our Place Under The Sun”. This song has many strong musical passages and great playing from all members, but it reminds me of the bloated prog epics of yore. It just wanders too much and doesn’t keep my interest.

I heartily recommend “Valley of the Windmill” to those who miss the glory days of Yes, Asia, ELP and more. But don’t forget to pack a lunch, you’re gonna need it.