Russian Circles - Geneva (2009)

For an album like this to work the composer's focus must remain with the songs, on the effectiveness of the song writing, and the inherent artistic value of the whole, rather than the cheap emotion of a simple soft-to-loud dynamic. "Malko," like many of their finest pieces, is a precise attempt to reconcile the paradox of the group's Cold War aesthetic; it's a fast 80's cocaine song with a shred-guitar intro that blasts at the nexus of the humane and the coldly mechanical. It also provides a fitting example of Sullivan's approach to composition: a steady evolution of patterns that rarely repeat themselves note-for-note. "Expression is everything you love, all mashed in the brain, all applied," he says, "creative expression extends that and moves it toward a result."

Geneva is built on brevity. The kind of concise summation afforded only those curious enough to develop and explore all relevant options. Yet, it easily feels the most ‘alive' of all the recordings Russian Circles have done to date. Listen at the opening of "Melee," as the snare drum first strikes and the rhythm slowly begins to take over... It's exactly the kind of memorable, restrained performance that will mark Dave, not only as a stupendously lithe drummer, but also as a conductor: the dynamic control he exerts throughout is as integral to the album as the diversity in timbre. "Everyone supported everyone else's weirdest ideas," he laughs. "We took more time in the studio," with producer, Brandon Curtis (The Secret Machines), and engineer, Greg Norman (Electrical Audio), "to get tones and perfect takes..."

This is an expertly shaped set of songs with their own identity, independent of the live experience. The addition of the bowed instruments and drunken horns is significant; their effect lovely, as if the band has assembled a sonic force similar to the one responsible for that last Stars of the Lid album, "And Their Refinement of the Decline." The classical textures are strongly suggestive, particularly during "Hexed All," where dust settles on a battlefield as the sun comes up. "I hear two general themes in our music," reflects Brian, "on the heavier side of things I hear impending doom and violence, and in the prettier moments I hear solace and redemption." Guidance between universal dark and light is provided by the boulder-thick tone of Cook's contributions: he effectively directs by accentuating, reinforcing, and generally ‘funkifying' the proceedings with malevolent sonance. It gets serious when the low-end starts asking the all-encompassing questions: "What does planet Earth sound like?" or "How should we handle such vast arms-lengths of transcendence when we can barely wrap our heads around this?" There are no epic precursors to Geneva, only these banded individuals...

Artist: 
Russian Circles
Album: 
Geneva
Album art: 
Release date: 
20.10.2009
Quality: 
VBR V0
Tracklist: 

1. Fathom
2. Geneva
3. Melee
4. Hexed all
5. Malko
6. When the Mountain Comes to Muhammad
7. Philos

Music label: 
Suicide Squeeze, Sargent House(Vinyl), Flameshovel
Country: 
Chicago, Illinois, United States
4.6
Average: 4.6 (20 votes)
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