Circa: is the project formed by Billy Sherwood and Tony Kaye, both of Yes fame. “Valley of the Windmill” is their latest outing and it has 4 epic tracks on it. Sherwood is a busy guy. He was asked to replace the late Chris Squire in Yes, the two being very close friends. Sherwood was in Yes previously in the late 90s, while Kaye was the band’s original keyboardist and was part of the 90125/Yes West version of the band.
Sherwood has moved from bass to guitar on “Valley of the Windmill” with Rick Tierney joining Circa: on bass. This really doesn’t seem to have effected the sound at all since Tierney’s bass is very prominent in the mix and sounds REALLY good as well. I was initially concerned that with Sherwood having just released a solo album last year (the very strong “Citizen”), he might not have more strong material so soon after that, but all 4 tracks on here are top notch songs with strong hooks.
As with most of Sherwood’s material, it’s never about how fast you can play or how many notes you can cram into a song. There’s plenty of atmosphere and yes plenty of space for solos but never to the point of being stupid. Tony Kaye showcases his Hammond playing on each track with some excellent solos on the “Silent Resolve” and “Our Place Under the Sun.” Sherwood is not a guitar hero but he does have some solid solos and even a very CLEAN sound that reminds me of Steve Howe.
The songs are strong and regardless of the length, you never check the time to see how much is left. That’s a mark of damn good prog. I really like the title track, a tale of wind turbines waiting patiently for the wind to come. Working in the renewable energy field as I do, that brought a smile to my face. “Valley of the Windmill” is a great release from a band with some Yesmen in it. Along with the Anderson/Stolt release, it becomes clear that the name isn’t needed when the DNA is present.
1. Silent Resolve (14:41)
2. Empire Over (9:24)
3. Valley Of The Windmill (7:32)
4. Our Place Under The Sun (18:43)
Label: Frontiers Music