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LA's Avant-Garde-Free-Jazz-Black-Metal-Krautrock's Circle of Sighs Release Film

Out on BluRay w/Atmos /Vinyl LP/Digital Today

Apr 21, 2023 via Pillars of Creation Rekords

Since the group’s inception in 2018, Circle of Sighs has never been bound to tradition, least of all their own. From the synth-laden doom of their debut release Salo, to the epic prog rock of its successor, Narci, to the Aphex-Twin-on-dälek electronic adventurism of 2022’s Alabaster – stylistic shifts have always been the point. Today, CoS releases their avant-garde-krautrock-doom-black-metal concert film and 32-minute long song “Circle of Sighs Performs an Invocation.” Defacto “band-leader” and upright bass player Collyn McCoy explains to MetalSucks: Circle of Sighs Performs an Invocation captures the first time this piece was performed live in front of an audience, on May 6, 2022. Since that time the musical component of the piece has evolved as we've gotten more familiar with the story we were trying to tell, but also due to lineup changes and expanded instrumentation. The visual component of the piece has evolved as well. In addition to the mimes we now have two jugglers and a Butoh dancer in the kollektiv. And owing to having our own expansive idea space -- Suspirium -- we've built sets and developed projection-mapped animations, puppetry, and miniatures custom-built by our lead mime and resident AV artist, Chris Soohoo. There will be further performances announced soon, but we try to stay low-key about it, so folks will have to follow us on social media and message us privately to find out the details. He previously mentioned to Decibel: We're quite aware of the risks inherent to mixing humor with "serious" music. For instance, if Frank Zappa hadn't been singing about farts, he'd be universally regarded as one of the greatest composers of the 20th Century. On the other hand, there's something truly cringe-worthy about performative earnestness. And you see a lot of that these days. So musically we take ourselves seriously but the overarching ridiculousness is definitely of the self-aware sort. I'd like to think we follow the Kraftwerk model. People mistakenly assume that Germans don't have a sense of humor. Not true at all. Germans are HILARIOUS. You just have to accept that they're not TRYING to make you laugh. They aren't seeking your approval. The humor is just there. Which brings me back to farts. Singing about farts is a very American sort of humor. We prefer the type where you let one rip, stone-faced, stoic, not drawing attention to it at all, even as its putridness wafts through the air burning everyone's eyes. That to me is goddamned hilarious." Some bands do well by giving the fans what they want. Circle of Sighs is not that band. Technically, it's not even a band at all, but rather a “kollectiv” (in the Bukaninian sense) wherein every participant contributes what they can, when they can, according to their creative need. The result is an ever-evolving oeuvre that transmogrifies and mutates like a virus. And speaking of viruses, one should not discount the effect Covid-19 had on the group’s process. Those aforementioned records were very much “pandemic projects” with contributors exchanging ideas and performances remotely. However with …Performs an Invocation we find Circle of Sighs taking the diametric approach. Composed with all participants in the room, performed and recorded live in just one take, with sections of free improvisation, randomization and reactive composition, it is simultaneously their most human and most alien record to date. But what’s the sound? The elevator pitch is Sun Ra meets SunnO))). You’ll also find traces of Amon Duul II, Fela Kuti, Dark Magus-era Miles Davis and, esoterically enough, Ya Ho Wha 13 (aka The Source Family house band). And yet, despite such disparately groovy, psychedelic and jazzy influences, …Performs an Invocation is still a metal record at its heart, albeit bereft of the toxic masculinity of a Hellfest slam pit. But when it dooms, it DOOMS. Did we mention the mimes? We should probably mention the mimes. No, we do not mean Third Street Promenade Buskers in horizontal stripes trying to free themselves from invisible boxes. We mean the corporeal mime of Étienne Decroux and Jean-Louis Barrault. We mean the surrealist mask theater of Mummenschanz. We mean Butoh. We mean the “happenings” of the Fluxus Movement. And while mime is usually considered a visual experience – and you certainly will catch an eyeful when partaking in the …Performs an Invocation BluRay release – the mimes’ compositional contributions were significant enough that they are credited alongside the musicians in the album’s liner notes. The human body is, after all, the primordial musical instrument. In fact movement art is so integral to Circle of Sighs’ compositional process, that – along with the group’s ever-expanding headcount which also includes jugglers and contortionists – it inspired them to open Suspirium, a 3000-square-foot idea workshop and performance space in a still-not-quite-gentrified corner of Downtown Los Angeles. Therein the kollectiv can be found workshopping new musical and visual concepts as well as building props, painting sets, mapping projections, and hosting performances, events, and exhibitions. Think Warhol’s Factory gone kvlt. Circle of Sighs Performs an Invocation releases April 21, 2023 care of the group’s own Pillars of Creation Rekords on vinyl LP, streaming, and BluRay (which contains the full konsertfilm and boasts a Dolby Atmos mix). To celebrate this event, there will be a record release performance and art show on April 22nd at Suspirium in downtown Los Angeles, CA, with further tour dates to follow.

Circle of Sighs Performs an Invocation




Album Credits

Ekaterina Gorbacheva - vocals

Aguste Sharma - guitar

Colin Kupka - saxophones

Ryan Thomas Johnson - keyboards

Collyn McCoy - electric upright bass

Ian Schweer - drumkit

Chris Soohoo - Mime 1 (Horus)

Mavis Figuls - Mime 2 (Hathor)

Recorded live at Transplants Brewing - Palmdale, CA

Mixed and Mastered by Matt Lynch at Mysterious Mammal - Venice, CA

Atmos mix by Rob Wrong at Wrong Way Recording - Portland, OR

BluRay authored by Asaf Blasberg - Brooklyn, NY

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