Retinal Circus (2CD)

Retinal Circus (2CD)

BY Townsend, Devin

(Customer Reviews)
$15.00
$ 9.00
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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  • UK band Touchstone take a surprising (at least to my ears) turn in a heavier direction.  While I would never call this full on metal, mixing engineer John Mitchell decided to turn their guitar up a notch.  Some good crunchy guitar bits through out the album.  The band was never a complex prog band.  Touchstone always had a melodic sensibility touching on AOR and neo-prog.  There is a symphonic element that keeps the music rooted in the prog world but you can tell that this is a band that is looking to cross over into other genres.  Their strongest asset remains vocalist Kim Seviour , who along with Leslie Hunt is one of the best female vocalists in the prog world."Returning once more to confound listeners and music reviewers alike, such as yours truly, with their ever evolving and pleasing neo-prog is England's Touchstone with their fourth long player, Oceans Of Time. Dare say, for their benefit, it's hard to pigeonhole Touchstone's sound. Is it hard rock? AOR? Progressive rock? Yes and then some, and it's not necessarily all that confounding really.However, I might say that Oceans Of Time could be their most 'proggy' album to date. If anything, the songs are quite varied, visiting old territory and exploring the new. Touchstone also returns to some familiar themes. The title track continues the Wintercoast story, and Shadow's End wraps up the Shadows trilogy begun on Discordant Dreams.These songs are also good examples of the strong progressive nature of the album, with Touchstone throwing curves to your ears. Yet Oceans Of Time will also sound more like familiar Touchstone as well. The musical canvas is quite grand lavished with layers of instrumentation, notably Hodgson's guitar and Cottingham's keyboards. Flux is another fine example of Touchstone's exotic musical brew. It's got some hard rock chops mixed with the prog, and then, about the three minute mark, it calms down. Synths stir, then Kim Seviour's vocals arrive, and the arrangement swells to sweet crescendo. It's one of best moments of the album.Other highlights include the bass and drum lines of Contact, a moody piece where Seviour's voice is alluring and graceful; the clever drumming within Fragments, possibly the closest thing to straight melodic rock song here; and, Spirit of the Age, a song with balancing lighter moments with heavier ones, and Seviour at her most sublime. Touchstone is band that keeps evolving and getting better, and so is always interesting and entertaining. Oceans Of Time is well recommended." - Dangerdog.com
    $5.00
  • "Australia is home to many fine progressive acts like Voyager, Arcane, Vanishing Point, Karnivool and the Melbourne based band Eyefear. The Inception Of Darkness illustrates once again why Eyefear are such a likeable group, and together with those fellow bands mentioned above are proving the land down under has plenty of progressive talent.This band has been around for quite some time and Eyefear's last release The Unseen came out in 2008 and it is one CD I have returned to many times. The Unseen is such a good metal album, and as you can tell from my score below I like The Inception Of Darkness a great deal also.Like Tomorrow's Eve and the heavier progressive bands, Eyefear perform a potent selection of animated metal, while clean vocals dominate this recording with some darker spoken words on track four which really suits the haunting material. Eyefear's lead vocalist Danny Cecati has a different style than most as he tends to hold his notes longer and is well suited to their songs. With eight tracks on the standard version, the special version has additional tunes which are orchestral versions of three songs off the album and are very well done indeed. I really like the use of keyboards on this recording, they are very tasteful and combine so well with the other instruments which also sound impressive. The two part title tracks "The Inception Of Darkness Part 1 – Transcending" and "The Inception Of Darkness Part 2 – Reborn" are two of the best being both dramatic and powerful, "Redemption" is another good lively song that opens this new album while "Legions" is a fine heavy closer. The Inception Of Darkness has plenty of appeal and that attraction continues to grow with each listen of this newest Eyefear release.Of the vast number of Progressive Metal groups, Eyefear certainly belongs amid the upper ranks, as The Inception Of Darkness is that good." - Sea Of Tranquility
    $15.00
  • "There are few bands, with a better than 25 years career, that have been as consistent in their sound and output as Denmark's Royal Hunt. Sure, they've had their share of personnel changes, significantly in the vocalist position, yet they carry on with increasing success. Recently, some of that success comes from one simple yet significant change. They brought Pennsylvania native D.C. Cooper back on the microphone. For my money, he'll always be the voice of Royal. He remains so, and the band records their thirteen album with Cooper, XIII - Devil's Dozen, his fifth on vocals for Royal Hunt.For those unfamiliar with Royal Hunt, which I doubt if you're reading this, the band performs melodic and symphonic heavy metal, with large emphasis on the first two descriptors. The symphonic element comes from founder and principal songwriter Andre Anderson's influence and keyboard presence. I'm presuming it's his synths that account for the large than life orchestration and not an actual orchestra. PR material was wanting on that information. Suffice to say, the symphonic layer provides two things. It provides a lush and lavish canvas and reinforces the melody of the arrangement, in every song. After this, Anderson offers keyboard solos throughout, sharing the limelight with the guitar leads. And those leads are as present and immense as everything else. Actually, I think the guitar presence is even larger on this album than most. Jonas Larsen is at the top of his game.Following these things, Cooper is also in top form, with a strong vocal presence. His skill comes from his natural ability to follow the melody and harmony of an arrangement, and then stay in range. Then there's the character of the songs, which has been alluded to by speaking of the particular musical elements.What's notable in those song arrangements is the importance of harmony and melody, but also the basic rock groove. This is where, from the band's inception, classic melodic hard rock has been as much a pillar of the musical foundation as the symphonic element. When these things dovetail together as with So Right So Wrong, How Do You Know, Way Too Late, and the quite catchy Hear On A Platte, Royal Hunt is a formidable melodic metal powerhouse. And that was only to mention four songs. They're all outstanding, all terrific and no filler. Once more, with XIII - Devil's Dozen, Royal Hunt's melodic and symphonic heavy metal is consistent, creative, and entertaining. Sweet stuff and strongly recommended." - Dangerdog.com 
    $16.00
  • "Nik Turner, the founding member of pioneering space-rock band HAWKWIND, returns to his intergalactic roots with his mind-blowing new CD titled "Space Gypsy". Featuring all-new material, "Space Gypsy" boasts guest appearances by fellow HAWKWIND alumnus drummer Simon House, and GONG guitar legend Steve Hillage, along with Nicky Garratt of the UK SUBS, Jurgen Engler of German industrial band DIE KRUPPS, and Jeff Piccinini of '70s punk icons CHELSEA. Making the CD release even more exciting, Nik Turner has filmed a dark, hypnotic new video called "Time Crypt featuring Simon House". This is the second video Nik has released in support of "Space Gypsy", the first being "Fallen Angel STS-51-L"; from the album's first single about the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster." 
    $15.00