Circle Six by Emmerhoff & The Melancholy Babies

Release date: May 11, 2018
Label: Apollon Records

Bergen, Norway’s Gunnar Emmerhoff, and his Melancholy Babies are certainly no spring chickens. They have been creating music for some twenty years now, and Circle Six, their latest release is their sixth album so far.

The fact that they have been around for so long and the fact that the lineup of the quintet has remained intact all that time certainly shows in their music presented on this album. One thing that doesn’t show, particularly if you are not fluent enough in Norwegian, is more information about the band, which might be one of the reasons they are not a more known quantity. And it is a shame. I guess the guys opted for the idea that “the music should speak for itself”.

Which, if you are a fan of more energetic forms of psych combined with some nifty harmony vocals like the album opener ‘Boreas’ (shades of Trondheim legends Motorpsycho), it certainly does. But, Emmerhoff and the guys are no Motorpsycho imitators, and certainly, bring other musical elements into play. ‘Koral’ is all shades of The Byrds circa ‘Eight Miles High’ including the Eastern influences, and it is a joy to listen to.

If you haven’t had enough of changes, ‘Aerial’ is like a gentler variant of J. Mascis or Stephen Malkmus in their Americana mode with some intricate changes and guitar interplay. If you thought that the title ‘Desert Ritual’ might not really have anything to do with the desert, you would be wrong, the guys show that they have been listening to some Tuareg blues and Tinariwen, this time filtered through some Northern mean guitars.

‘Lovers Left Alive’ bring in some jazzy chops akin to Chicago’s Sea and Cake, while ‘BB’ dips further into jazz territory seen through the eyes of Frank Zappa. While ‘Astral Nomad’ and closer ‘Sleepwaker’ take us back to the psych territory again, the faster and slower versions, with the latter topping the cake with its Sad Garret-Like ruminations.

Still, with all the musical zig-zags, the album doesn’t sound like a compilation of styles a band would send to a prospective label, but, strangely enough, like a unified whole done by a band that knows exactly what it is doing, and doing it as it should be done.

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