By Dr. Abner Mality

I usually don’t review re-released material but I’m making an exception for this. For those who don’t know Circle, they are a phenomenally prolific underground band from Finland who have put out over 20 albums since 1991. “Meronia” was their first. I became aware of the band through the always-interesting Aquarius Records website.

It’s impossible to describe what kind of band Circle is, because they’ve dabbled in virtually every genre, from alternative rock to psychedelic folk to sci-fi techno to heavy metal. The common thread between all those styles was the hypnotic simplicity and repetitiveness of the music. No matter what style they played, there was a reliance on repeating riffs and hooks. I’ve heard the word “motoric” used to describe this appeal but I hate that word, myself. Naturally, I was drawn to the heavier side of the band.
It all started here, on “Meronia”, a sprawling effort containing 2 LP’s worth of material. And I mean, it ALL started here, because the seeds of all later Circle were planted through “Meronia”. This is a real sonic journey that still resonates today. That isn’t to say that I enjoy all of it, because some of it will drive you crazy. Specifically, “DNA” and “Hypto” are repetitive to the point of monotony. This is not instrumental, but the human voice definitely plays a minor part in the proceedings. This is a record for both trance-inducing riffing and experimentation. “Ed-Visio” almost sounds like a robotic R.E.M., “Wherever Particular People Congregate” is almost another band entirely…chaotic and noisy. “Nude” has a free jazz element with sax, “Staalo” and “Scoop” are long, somber and hugely symphonic in nature. “Kyberia” has that sci-fi feel to it. “Merid” is one of the most striking (and briefest) tunes.

The common thread is that hypnotic nature. Sometimes it works better than others. The whole of “Meronia” is tremendously ambitious and challenging for a first album…it still stands as one of Circle’s best. Svart Records has teamed up with Full Contact to bring us this remastered and handsome reissue. If you’re interested in this notorious band, this is indeed the place to start.