Russian Circles - Empros
Instrumental rock is an unforgiving master, it is all too easy for bands to slip into mundane formulation; thankfully it appears that Russian Circles are a long way from that at present, as fourth album Empros is yet another tour de force in loops and riffs that are as exciting as they are complex. Guitarist Mike Sullivan is something of a wizard as he deftly moulds and deconstructs songs with his toes dancing over a veritable feast of pedals and loopers, a remarkable feat of timing and intuition to create these mini masterpieces; and this time around, Brian Cook has found a monstrous bass tone full of fuzz and depth to underpin the whole shebang.
The opening '309', with its crushing weight and huge guitars, is easily Russian Circles' heaviest piece; the tune bounds along with such an infectious enthusiasm, the various loops weaving a deliciously dense web of aural delight. This is cleverly juxtaposed with 'Mladek' and its beautiful reoccurring motifs; but even this descends into a menacing bleakness as the music underneath grows progressively darker and heavier as we sink further. The glorious 'Schipol' on the other hand is a true moment of reflection, a blissful slide into calm before the band ratchet it back up once again as the slow burning 'Atackla' and ultimately 'Batu' build over a thumping rhythmical foundation to an ecstatic and crunching climax.
The closing 'Praise Be Man' is as sparse as you are ever likely to hear the band, and even has singing! The acoustic guitars and Americana drawl appear to give a nod to the new wave of folk that is trotting across the globe of late; only the subtle hints of feedback lurking in the background bear the familiar mark, before that gorgeous bass comes charging in for one last blast. After the comparative dip in form of Geneva, Russian Circles are back to near their best with this expertly crafted study in mood and emotion. Empros is a joyous venture through the outer regions of psychedelic adventures.