Circles ($3 Special)

"A Chinese Firedrill is a project assembled and put together by bass player Joey Vera. He has written all the tunes, and play most instruments, with just drums and "DJ scratching" handled by others. Which makes this album more of a solo release than a band project as such. Previous to this release Vera was best known as a band member, with his involvement in Armored Saint, Fates Warning and OSI arguably being the most high profiled. The album “Circles” was issued by Bridge Records in 2006, and re-released in 2007 by ProgRock Records when Joey Vera signed for them.

Musically this release will be seen as an odd one by many listeners. Vera's background from metal bands shines through in the guitarwork on many tracks, while his involvement with bands like Chroma Key and OSI are easily detected by the use of synths, as well as ambient and industrial sounding elements in the musical tapestry. But the most striking feature of “Circles” is variation, as all songs explore more or less different musical styles.

“Circles” moves between hard rock and heavy metal in style, with some nice synth work throughout, "Automatic Fantasy" explores a more folk-rock influenced musical landscape, spiced with at times extensive synths and a hard rock influenced chorus. The more or less aptly named tune "Insane" mixes mellow psychedelic influenced moods with a grandiose prog metal chorus, fusing both styles at the end, whereas "Siúcra" is more of a symphonic rock and neo-prog musical journey. "Never Say Never" is a trip into prog metal territories with space rock elements included, and the following track "Grass and Stone (Ethereal)" is more of a haunting metal ballad with symphonic and psychedelic tendencies. "Rock, Paper, Scissors" is the final track, mixing electronic and ambient sounds with hard rock and metal in a song with numerous changes in style, pace and sound.

Vera is a talented performer and producer, and “Circles” proves that he's a very talented songwriter too. All tunes are coherent, even when exploring multitudes of styles. The songs move effortless between the different styles explored, and each individual song as well as the album as a whole has a distinct, individual sound. Overall this comes across as a very strong release - but perhaps with a slightly limited appeal.

Personally I'd recommend this album to people into OSI in general, and fans of their second release Free in particular, but fans of slightly experimental progressive rock and metal might also find this album intriguing." - Olav Björnsen/USAProgressiveMusic.com

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  • "Esoteric Recordings are proud to announce the release of a newly re-mastered and expanded edition of the classic 1969 album A SALTY DOG by PROCOL HARUM. Released in June 1969, the record followed on from the huge international success of the band’s debut single "A Whiter Shade of Pale” and the follow up single "Homburg” and the superb albums PROCOL HARUM and SHINE ON BRIGHTLY.  One of the finest releases of the era "A Salty Dog” saw the exquisite song writing of Gary Brooker and Keith Reid honed to perfection on highlights such as the album’s title track, "The Devil Came From Kansas”, "Wreck of the Hesperus”, "The Milk of Human Kindness” and more.  Recorded at Abbey Road studios, the album captured the excellence of the musicians in the group, namely Gary Brooker (voice, piano), Robin Trower (lead guitar), David Knights (bass guitar), B.J. Wilson (drums) and Matthew Fisher (Hammond organ).Newly re-mastered from the original tapes, this Deluxe edition of "A Salty Dog” has been expanded to include 12 bonus tracks (5 previously unreleased) over two CDs, including the mono single mix of the title track and its non-album B-side; an early take of ‘The Milk Of Human Kindness’, plus five previously unreleased tracks from BBC Radio sessions from October 1968 & May 1969 along with four live tracks recorded in the USA in April 1969.This expanded deluxe edition of "A Salty Dog” also includes a lavishly illustrated booklet that fully restores the original album artwork and features a new essay by Procol Harum biographer Henry Scott-Irvine"
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