Retinal Circus (2CD)

SKU: 0506612
Label:
Inside Out
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"Artistry is never about conformity and straight lines. It’s about taking risks, and then pushing boundaries to a point where the impossible suddenly seems a little more flexible. Such has been the career of Devin Townsend, one of the most uniquely insightful musicians of the 21st Century. And it’s certainly the case with the Retinal Circus.
Staged at The Roundhouse in London on October 27, 2012, this was the chance for Townsend to present a performance that summarised his career so far. And he did it with aplomb, style, humour, a sense of blackness and a touch of the bizarre.
“My manager and I were looking for a way to sum up 20 years of my music, without making it seem that I was some kind of multi-headed hydra. And over a period of time we came up with the idea of the Retinal Circus.”
The concept was to piece together a presentation that was musical, visual and startling. One that reflected Townsend’s own remarkable ability to take up almost any idea, twist it within his own show, thereby adding to the overall impact.
“To me it’s like somebody putting a cauldron in the middle of a room, with only a nail in it. Eventually someone comes along and says, ‘That cauldron could do with some potatoes’. And then someone else says, ‘Let’s add some tomatoes’, and before you know it you have a cauldron filled to the brim with all sorts of interesting items. That’s how we approached this concept.”
Over a period of eight to 10 months, during which time he was also working on other projects, Townsend assembled all the factors and talents that would eventually help to spit this Circus into something so fascinating that it took The Roundhouse by storm, and is still being spoken about as one of the great triumphs of the live environment over the past decade. While the centrepiece was clearly the music that has helped to propel Townsend to such eminence, it’s very diversity allowed for the introduction of characters who were wild and wacky enough to be the music made flesh and blood – not to mention fire breathing skills, in some cases!
“We always knew that it was going to be a one-off performance. It’s not as if we planned to repeat the process. So what you see and hear is captured from the one night when the Retinal Circus will ever be brought to life.”
Given the complexity and wide-ranging nature of this production, it’s astonishing to think that there were just one-and-a-half days of rehearsal time prior to the show itself. But it would all prove to be quite extraordinary, as the night in question brought out a kind of collective feral belief from everyone.
“To me, it’s like going on a long bicycle ride. You can always give up at any point, but what do get out of that? It’s far more satisfying to keep going, whatever the problems you face, and to know that you’ve made it on your own merit and in your own time.”
Since the show itself happened, Townsend has been busy getting together the live release, and ensuring that every aspect reflects the night itself in the best possible sense.
“I wanted the sound and musical quality to be of the highest order. I wanted the commentary, the visuals...everything about it to be appealing and comprehensive. And I feel that’s what I’ve now got. This will never happen again, so what I release to the fans has to be of a quality that reflects the original ideals. It was so much fun to do, and had so much passion. I believe you can feel that when you watch and listen.”
The Retinal Circus was so extreme, full of depth and intelligence that it should have taken much longer to produce with considerably more financial and manpower back-up. But then the beauty of Townsend is that he made it work on his own terms and in his own times.
“It was an absurd project to start. But it was an even more absurd project to finish. But I am proud of what I did. I will always have a special place for the Retinal Circus.”"

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Now it fits right in with 'Crawlspace' and 'Traitor!'All in all, a number of tracks actually sound better, due to the heavier sound, the tendency toward ominousness the band has built into their sound over the last decade or so pervading through, and the fantastic vocals. 'Pharao' is melodic as it ever was, the tense riffs sounding unbelievable in this reimagining, and surpasses the original due to Zachary being far tighter and heavier than back in the '80s. 'Wings of Darkness', the band's signature song, is now assisted by a hammond organ and the most outrageous vocal performance on the album (possibly by Tarot in years), both singers sounding totally unhinged and fucking awesome over the newly throaty interpretation of the addictive guitar riffs. It's only 'Love's Not Made For My Kind', 'Dancing on the Wire' and the bizarre acoustic rendering of 'De Mortui Nil Nisi Bene' (which while being cool and catchy, doesn't really make sense here) which fail to impact in quite the same way.Somewhat sacrilegiously, I've enjoyed a good number of these better than their original incarnations. The original album should still be bought first (for context, or as a friend of mine would put it, for awesome), and I'd even recommend Undead Indeed for a first taste of Tarot blasting out their oldies with their current lineup and sound. Loyal Tarot troopers definitely need this record. It's received a lot of attention from me and is by far the best attempt I've heard at reimagining an old album in its entirety. However, just because this turned out good, does NOT mean Venom and Slayer have an excuse to give me Black Metal MMXII and Reign in Blood MMXII next year." - Metal Archives
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  • I remember how I felt the first time I heard Riverside. Its purely a coincidence that Pinkroom also hails from Poland but this debut disc hits me in a similar way. The band is (at the moment) a duo of Mariusz Boniecki (guitars, vocals, keys) and Marcin Kledzik (drums). In terms of the music there is definitely somewhat of a similarity to Riverside and Porcupine Tree in the way they incorporate atmospheric blissed out passages and then drop the heavy bomb on you. The more intricate parts have a retro-Crimson vibe particularly from the Mellotron samples. There is lots of intricacies to the music but I'm always drawn to the drama and emotion from this disc. Boniecki is a solid vocalist - the production envelops his voice is a gauze-like dreamy texture adding a hallucenogenic effect is places. Truth be told had Pinkroom not pressed up this disc already it would probably be sporting a Laser's Edge imprint. I'm really impressed by this band and if you are a fan of the band's I've mentioned you really need to hear this.. They are in the process of expanding the lineup so they can gig - can't wait to hear them live. You may very well not hear a better album this year. BUY OR DIE!Don't believe me?? Check 'em out for yourself: http://pinkroom.bandcamp.com
    $13.00
  • Second album from this Greek progressive metal band finds them with a new label and new vocalist. The foundation of the music remains the same - melodic, keyboard driven prog metal along the lines of Circus Maximus, Dream Theater, and Vanden Plas."Possibly indicative of the album title, Greek progressives Persona Non Grata hoped to 'up their game' with their sophomore release, Quantum Leap. Released in December, this fine work of progressive metal could easily be added to the best of 2011, right along side their peers Symphony X and Dream Theater.Quantum Leap, generally a heavy album, effortlessly blends classic heavy metal, notable in the melodies and traditional guitar work, with enough technical elements to offer progressive intrigue. By example, Redemption of Sins is indicative of this pattern, with it's notable rock/metal fusion finish. Alternatively, a song like Diversity remains heavy throughout, only to be brightened by synths and guitar. While not the best piece here, if you like your prog erring on the side of heaviness, it satisfies.Yet, more traditional melodic prog metal can be found from the start in Imaginative Mind and Lend Me a Hand. PnG stretches this motif and their skills on the longer 9 AM News. Captive and Grief, two of the finest songs here, push the somber subtlety of piano with vocals only erupt in soaring progressive power metal. Any doubts about the skills of new vocalist Aris Pirris are dispelled on these two numbers, also.Yet, after the fine arrangements, the singular most stunning characteristic of Quantum Leap is the bass work of new player, Chris Vogiatzis. Honestly, he nearly steals the show. His work is so fundamental and inspiring as to lift the entire PnG crew to greater heights. I would recommend buying the album for this alone.Fundamentally, however, Persona Non Grata's Quantum Leap is simply entertaining and intriguing progressive metal. Certainly, something you'll want to listen to several times over. Strongly recommended." - Danger Dog
    $14.00
  • "After some high profile releases and particularly impressive ubiquity, the ex-DREAM THEATER / A7X drums God Mike Portnoy is back again with his new musical partner the magnificent Bass Maestro Billy Sheehan (NIACIN / TALAS / DAVID LEE ROTH / MR BIG / STEVE VAI / PSMS), under a power trio format, completed by none other than one of the most gifted Guitarist of his generation once Sharpnel Records alumni Richie Kotzen but this time no instrumental trickery, no instrumental knitting, because Kotzen beside his absolute skilled six strings wizardry is also indeed an hell of a fantastic soulful singer and a very underrated vocalist of the best brand. This is a  supergroup, a Dream Team hell yeah…but mostly a great band.With such a busy time schedule for both workaholics Portnoy & Sheehan, we could have feared a fast almost sloppy affair, luckily with this first album is exactly the opposite. Sheehan & Kotzen were working many years together with MR BIG and in fact the sound of THE WINERY DOGS isn’t that far from what Sheehan, Paul Gilbert , Pat Torpey and Eric Martin have magnificently achieved.The album start with groovy 70s infused blast of “Elevate” and followed by the heavy Funk flavor of “Desire” each track feature an intense rhythmic groove with short but impressive unison synchronized lead bass / lead guitar whirlwind licks of exuberant virtuosity, some unexpected harmonies that coming out of the Jazz-Rock / Rhythm N' Blues recipe book owned by Kotzen, but every song carries most of all a strong focus both on the catchy melodies and on the sing-along hooks which are everywhere boosted by rich Backing vocals (“The Other Side” or “The Dying”) really magnetic & irresistible. Those who are familiar with the prolific superb Kotzen’s discography knows that he’s an hugely skilled songwriter with a lot of style in his arsenal, so THE WINERY DOGS debut album is out of the same tradition as THE MOTHER HEAD'S FAMILLY REUNION, “Not Hopeless” contains however some over the top sharing duo between Richie & Billy, in the real MR BIG's shredding frenzy fashion, like a modern day GRAND FUNK RAILROAD with full injection of high tech dexterity.Cuts like “One More Time” or “Six Feet Deeper” seems to be outtakes from the breath taking 1990s “Fever Dream”, with furious playing and great musicality concentrated for an even more efficiency. The Japan only bonus track, “Criminal” is strangely one of the most commercial song with an almost AOR chorus, a syncopated bridge and another outstanding lead guitar solo spot in two parts with a tasty sound. The closing number “Regret” is the sole composition handled exclusively by Mr. Kotzen: it’s a soul music track with slight Hammond layers and a real harmonious balanced to finish this album in a positive way. The pristine production is powerful and crystal clear, still organic with a strong vintage feel but not muddy, in fact it sounds like how Classic Rock in its purest form should sound in 2013. Just unadulterated genuine Rock played by an exemplary bunch of extremely talented musicians and it’s an understatement.After an imposing huge list of albums and projects under his belt, Mike Portnoy with the help of another all-star lineup show to the incredulous crowd of jealous fellows, how his playing field is broad and how he can multiply in an almost monthly omnipresence the recording with the same prestige and the same success as FLYING COLORS / NEAL MORSE / PSMS / ADRENALINE MOB and the forthcoming BIGELF." - Metal Temple
    $14.00
  • Stunning new album from Crippled Black Phoenix arrives as a sprawling 2CD set. This is one of the hottest progressive bands on the planet. Led by Justin Greaves, CBP channel the spirit of early Pink Floyd but update it with modern production. This is the band's fourth (or fifth depending on how you count) album. There is a thematic subtext dealing with corruption and injustice. This seems to be a recurring theme with CBP. Listen to this album - you can just hear a band about to explode on the world wide stage. BUY OR DIE!
    $19.00