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The Circular Ruins "Degrees of Separation"
Inspired and beautiful new music from The Circular Ruins!

In my opinion Anthony Paul Kirby has proven time and time again that he is an impressive musical talent with a firm understanding of ambient/electronic ideals. Over the years his work as both The Circular Ruins and Lammergeyer has delighted and inspired me, leaving both a strong impression and a tremendous appreciation for his work. And so it should come as no surprise that I'm delighted by his latest release as The Circular Ruins "Degrees of Separation". It's a stunning collection that stands up with the best of Kirby's catalogue, continuing and developing on the work that he's done in the past.

The long form piece "Epiphenomena" opens the disc, a masterful blend of drone and melody interspersed with infrequent samples. It's a fascinating work that unfolds over the course of it's sixteen plus minutes, where a bed of dark ambience anchors the track while lighter tones rise up to break the surface. Melodic phrases and occasional notes run throughout the track providing touchstones and reference points for the work as a whole, giving suggestions of theme and ideal, but never giving the plot away so much that you can't imbue it with your own meaning, your own understanding.

The title track "Degrees of Separation" follows, a study in connectivity where form and pattern is created by association. It's a very dense piece with many levels all blending together in a loosely woven mix, masterfully assembled in such a way as to form bonds between it's elements while still allowing for those same elements to retain a certain distinction between them.

Track three, "Doon Hill", is a fine example of locational ambience, a piece meant to evoke the memory of a particular magical spot in Scotland where the barriers between our world and Faerie are thinner than the norm. While I've never visited Doon Hill myself, Kirby has done an excellent job in recreating it's charms enough so that I feel I've been there in some way. Maybe seeing such a magical environment in my mind's eye makes it even more real to me than an actual physical visit? Either way it's a testimony to Kirby's talent that I can feel so connected to this space.

"Empty Hands" uses oblique motion as a backdrop for a series of subtle arpeggios and almost jazzy riffs. Beautiful and bright in it's presentation, "Empty Hands" brings to mind future possibilities and hope, the chance to go beyond our limitations to create something new and better.

The fifth track "Departure" moves away from the drone textures used in earlier tracks, opting instead to use a burbling synth that plays underneath a series of beautifully sweeping pads. Sublime and lovely, this one is surely my favourite track on the disc.

"Darkness Between Them" follows in a similar pattern, employing sweeps and sustained notes to maximum effect. The track seems to exist as a companion piece to the earlier "Degrees of Separation", but where that track suggested connectivity this one gives the impression of isolation between it's elements, a strong feeling of separate existence. Still beautiful, still inspiring, but perhaps with a touch more regret in it's charms.

"Subspace-Overdrive" closes the disc, a flight into space and all of the mystery that entails. Twinkling stars, meteor dust, nebulae and more, it's the sound of the heavens, the sound of beyond. A charming excursion outside of our selves and a wonderful way to close the disc.

Without doubt, "Degrees of Separation" is a stunning collection that re-enforces my belief that Kirby is one of the most significant ambient/electronic artists working today. All of the tracks on this disc give pause for thought, reflection, and contemplation, all of them send the mind reeling with possibility and opportunity. An essential work by an essential talent.

rik - ping things

related items

The Circular Ruins - Conjunction

The Circular Ruins - Empathy Test

The Circular Ruins - Realm of Possibility

The Circular Ruins - Their Subtle Purpose

The Circular Ruins and Off the Sky - We All Fall Down

Lammergeyer - Beneath the Sky

Lammergeyer - Birds of Prey

Lammergeyer - Blue Oasis

Lammergeyer - Borders and Barrens

Lammergeyer - Borrowed Time

Various Artists - Collection 2:Moving

last updated 05/22/11