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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  • Under the Red Cloud marks the 12th studio album from Finland’s grandfathers of extreme metal, the band’s sixth LP with Tomi Joutsen as vocalist and his 10th year in the band. The string of Tomi’s six records started with 2006’s Eclipse and had an absolutely epic beginning. Eclipse, Silent Waters and Skyforger  showed the band’s new found drive and energy, reclaiming some of their death metal heritage, while veering further into what Nuclear Blast has fittingly labeled ‘melancholy rock.’ Unfortunately, Angry Metal Guy’s Law of Diminishing Recordings™ is a fickle mistress, and The Beginning of Times and Circle were both records that were good, but lacked the urgency of that initial trilogy. These records saw the band pushing into newer territory—heavy Jethro Tull influences bled through on the former, while Circle developed some of the band’s folky elements in cool ways. Neither album gripped me. But when Amorphis releases an album, it’s hard for me not to get excited, and upon seeing the cover art for Under the Red Cloud, all that warm anticipation came back. And fortunately, they didn’t disappoint.Under the Red Cloud is a return to form for Amorphis, and the most cohesive album the band has released since 2009’s Skyforger. Clocking in at 50 minutes, it’s made of ten thematically cohesive tracks. The album isn’t a story though. Instead, the lyrics (written, as always, by Pekka Kainulainen) are conceptually foreboding; about living under a red cloud in troubled times. The music matches this feel, and while I wouldn’t say the album is necessarily so much heavier than previous records, it may have been influenced by the 20th Anniversary of Tales from the Thousand Lakes, because the band has certainly produced the most growl-heavy material of the Joutsen-era.You wouldn’t notice that on the opening title track, however. “Under the Red Cloud” starts with an atmospheric piano bolstered by throbbing bass and a clean guitar in harmonic minor before merging into prime Amorphis territory: a chunky, groovy riff with Tomi’s cleans augmenting the sound perfectly. This format—the classic hard rock song-writing—is the stamp with which the band’s newer material has largely been pressed. “Sacrifice” is similar, breaking in with a “House of Sleep” intro, and a heavy, syncopated verse before giving way to a hooky chorus and a slick guitar melody. “Bad Blood” features Tomi’s growl in the verse, but it’s heavy on the groove and light on the melody before giving way to an epic chorus and beautiful bridge.Amorphis isn’t afraid of their death metal side here. Between “The Four Wise Ones” and “Death of a King,” every single track starts with growls, and the former doesn’t feature any clean vocals from Joutsen at all—instead there’s a short bridge with a haunting, effected vocal line that evokes Elegy. “The Four Wise Ones” and “The Dark Path” both feature crescendos with a ’90s black metal feel—wet with keys and a trem-picked melodies—only undermined by Rechberger’s refusal to use blast beats and Tomi’s growls. The death-laden material works well, though moments like the verse in “Bad Blood” or “Death of a King,” which is one of the singles from Under the Red Cloud, are places where I would have chosen clean vocals rather than growls.There is a danger, however, in Amorphis‘s modern sound, in that it’s pretty easy to fall into a rut. A fairly close listen to Under the Red Cloud reveals that the songs pretty much all follow the same structure, which when the band isn’t producing their sharpest writing can become repetitive. When the album hits its stride, though, it’s an extremely well-crafted record. From “Sacrifice” to “White Night” is a stretch of pure enjoyment—each song flowing into the next, while peaking on the final two tracks. “Tree of Ages” features a folky Celtic theme that has been stuck in my head since the first time I heard it, and “White Night” is a moody track that closes the album out with a surge.Under the Red Cloud is a very good album and a return to form. The record simply sounds like Amorphis; the band has developed a sound that bridges the gap between their old material and the new—with plenty of moments on here that remind me of Elegy and Tuonela with sitar (“Death of a King”) or bong water keyboard solos (“Enemy at the Gates”). And it’s incredible how the band’s riffing can still be so idiosyncratic. “The Skull” and “Enemy at the Gate” have riffs you only hear in Amorphis and Barren Earth; and after 12 records they still pull them off without feeling like they’re ripping themselves off. Consistency is a virtue for big bands if they’re any good, but I think there are hints on UtRC that Amorphis could get more adventurous going forward, and I hope they do. Until that time, though, I’ll be sitting here enjoying these tunes under the red clouds." - Angry Metal Guy
    $15.00
  • "Sündenfall II from the Kevelaer area at the Lower Rhine played a mixture of folk and jazz, influenced by Jethro Tull. While their predecessors, Sündenfall, exclusively dedicated themselves to jazz, the group included folk after a change in line-up and band name (following the example of Amon Duul II). In 1972, Hubert Schmitz invited the band into his Trepitia film and sound studio in Alpen-Druept for free recordings, as he wanted to test the newly installed equipment after a recent move into the new location. Thus the recordings were made for the album Sündenfall II (Trefiton HS 1017), which was released in a small edition of 200 copies at the end of 1972. Today it is sold at a price of about 500 to 1000 Euros in mint condition. The LP re-issue is a limited edition of 1000 numbered copies and comes with a four-page color insert in LP size, including a detailed band history in German and in English language, many band photographs, and information about the Trefiton label etc." PLEASE NOTE WE CAN ONLY SHIP VINYL TO OUR USA CUSTOMERS.
    $36.00