Encircled -
The Monkey Jamboree

(CD 2017, 54:30, Private Release)

The tracks:
  1- The Monkey Jamboree(1:47)
  2- Alphabetically Possibly(4:31)
  3- Complexity(6:42)
  4- Stereochrome(5:51)
  5- Magic Hour(6:09)
  6- Tomorrow...(6:07)
  7- A Life Shy Of Perfection(6:41)
  8- Chasing The Ghost(16:39)

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The 2nd full CD of Encircled is also a Bandcamp release. And just like the first CD the files on this site have been recorded on a limited CD-r in a nice and simple digipack too.
I made a review on the first CD The Gun Has Replaced The Handshake (see review) too. And I can say that the band has evolved in a good way. They kept the main line of their sound practically the same. Just straight forward (neo) prog as it sounded in the mid-eighties.
The singer Mark Busby Burrows, who also plays some of the guitars, does remind me of Haze's Paul McMahon (I see it as a compliment).
And yes, they have a real drummer! Thank you Stuart Picken for joining this band.
So, the sound is more mature and mostly a bit more accessible. A nice album with some nice random proggy tracks. No more no less.

But... A good prog album (for me) always has an epic track. And it has to last longer than 10 minutes. So is this one. The epic end is in a 16+min closing piece. Chasing The Ghost fulfills these requirements.
Before it begins, worth mentioning is the slow and quiet “A Life Shy Of Perfection” (with a nice climax). The “epic” begins. A nice vocal intro accompanied with sparkling keys and guitar (Genesis'Supper's Ready?). After a good 5.5 minutes there is a slight change in ambiance and a minute later it gives you the same feeling as a regular IQ song. Marillion enters at 8:50 with a nice and quiet guitar intermezzo. Though the typical Steve Rothery sound that I mentioned on the first album is changed. Guitarist Gareth Evans created a more “own” sound. And “Great Scott!”, how I love those Mellotron carpets. The ending has a smooth flute solo to make it (how seemingly obvious) whole. Yes, it is a totally prog epic by the book. And it nails it!

This 2nd album is a typical prog piece that hits most of the (neo) prog clichés. I don't mind, I like it. It gives me enjoyable feelings of nostalgia. Maybe this band does it for u too? I'm looking forward to a 3rd album if this musical growth is continued.

****+ Erik van Os (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)

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