Flying Circus - 2021 - Flying Circus

(79:45; Fastball Music)

Track list:
1. The World Is Mine 8:37
2. Dystopia 3:40
3. Fire (I Wanna Go) 5:20
4. Seasons 6:52
5. Bedevere's Wake 6:13
6. Cut It Deep 3:25
7. Derry 1:59
8. Follow the Empress 5:16
9. Carpe Noctem 4:58
10. Living a Lie 4:05
11. The Hopes We Had (In 1968) 6:48
12. Voices in the Rain 5:16
13. Pride of Creation 4:45
14. The Edge of the World 7:05
15. The Jewel City 5:26

Michael Dorp - vocals, percussion
Michael Rick - guitars, vocals
Ande Roderigo - drums, percussion, vocals
Rüdiger Blömer - keyboards, violin, programming
Roger Weitz - bass, vocals

German band FLYING CIRCUS have been a feature in their homeland for a bit over 3 decades, with six full length albums to their name so far. In 2020 the band wanted to commemorate their 30 year long history by revisiting their earlier material, and the end result became the compilation album "Flying Circus", which was released through German label Fastball Music at the start of 2021.

As compilation albums aren't always the most inspiring production to release these days, Flying Circus decided to take a different approach to assembling this album than to merely pick fan favorites and the songs they treasure most themselves and deliver it as a ready made package. Instead they decided to re-record their older songs, remix and remaster most of the newer material, and then add on a new song to boot. While this may not mean all that much to those unaware of the band already it is a nice bonus feature for existing fans, which obviously makes this compilation album more inspiring for them to check out as well.

From what I can see this fine German band hasn't made all that much of a strong commercial impact so far, and judging from the material presented on this compilation album that is a bit of a shame. While it isn't exactly newsworthy that many quality bands never manage to get the impact they deserve, it is both disheartening and exciting to discover such artists. Especially ones that have been a going concern for more than 30 years.

The specialty of this band is to mix and blend elements from hard rock and progressive rock into tight packages, using structures and instrument elements from progressive rock and applying them in the more driving power of hard rock. Hence the rhythm section will be a bit more oriented towards momentum, while the other instruments will focus more on atmospheric moods, playful details and the more progressive elements of the music. That being said, the band do have sections with more expressive rhythm instrument details too. But the general approach is more or less as stated.

From the hard rock department it is clear that these guys know their Led Zeppelin as well as their Deep Purple, and from the progressive rock universe Kansas is the first name I noted down in the associations department. Quite a few of the songs strikes me as blending impulses from this trio of bands more than anything else. Some of the compositions will also feature world music elements by way of tonal details and the atmospheres explored, at times with a similar approach as what a band Led Zeppelin did on a song like 'Kashmir', on other occasions with a bit more of an emphasis on what for us here in the west will often be described as exotic instrument details. A few possibly jazz-tinged instrument details appear on occasion too, quite a few of the calmer songs has a bit more of an acoustic rock meets folk music vibe to them, and on one occasion they also dip their toes heavily into Gentle Giant oriented landscapes - on the song 'Cut It Deep'. And while this is more accidental, vocalist Dorp has a voice and uses it in a manner not all that far removed from a singer like Geddy Lee.

As this is a compilation album it probably isn't much of a surprise that the material here is solid through and through. This is the material chosen for representing Flying Circus at their very best after all, and for my sake at least I'm left with a very positive impression. Especially the opening handful of songs made a really strong impression, and moments of brilliancy and musical bliss pops up on a regular basis right through to the very end. A solid band with well developed material, and hopefully this compilation album will lead to more people getting to know about this veteran German band.

Flying Circus is a band that have escaped my attention until now, which is a bit of a shame. The manner in which they blend aspects of progressive rock and 70's era hard rock is both charming and catchy, and the fact that the violin is at least as prominent as the keyboards in this context does give them a slightly different vibe than many other bands exploring similar landscapes. While they are not all that similar in style and sound, I do suspect that quite a few of those who treasure the exploits of a band like Magic Pie may find Flying Circus to be an interesting band to look into, alongside those who generally find bands combining aspects of hard rock and progressive rock to be interesting of course.

Olav "Progmessor" Björnsen, March 2021



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