BLACK MOON CIRCLE-THE STORY SO FAR.
BLACK MOON CIRCLE-THE STORY SO FAR.
Over the last few years, the Norwegian music scene has been thriving. Groups old and new, have been releasing some of the most innovative music in Europe. This includes everything from free jazz, progressive rock and psychedelia to space rock, experimental and avant garde music. It seems that the thriving Norwegian music scene is also truly eclectic.
While the music coming out of Norway each month eclectic, it’s also groundbreaking. It surpasses the music being released by many British labels. Their A&R departments and label managers should make their may to Oslo, Bergen, Fredrikstad, Lillehammer or Trondeim. In each of these towns and cities, there’s a thriving music scene. There’s plenty of talented bands waiting to be discovered. They would be happy to sign on the dotted line. However, they’re not sitting twiddling their thumbs, waiting for A&R men to beat a path to their door.
Instead, they’ve been making things happen. They do this the old fashioned way, through constant touring. Gradually, they build a following. This leads to bands playing larger venues and festivals. Then when they’re not touring, they write and record singles, E.P.s and albums. They’re then released independently, or via one-off deals with Norwegian labels. This is what Black Moon Circle have been doing since 2012.
Black Moon Circle are, without doubt, one of the most exciting, talented and innovative of this generation of new Norwegian groups. Considering how rich and vibrant the Nordic music scene is, that’s high praise indeed. However, it’s well deserved.
The Trondheim based trio seem to have been influenced by their fellow countrymen Motorpsycho and Moster! That’s not all. Black Moon Circle sound as of they’ve been influenced by Led Zeppelin, Hawkwind, early Pink Floyd and legendary guitar virtuoso, Jimi Hendrix. That’s why Black Moon Circle are being hailed as one of the rising stars of the Nordic music scene. That’s been the case since the Engan brothers formed Black Moon Circle.
Norwegian space rock band Black Moon Circle were formed back in 2012, by brothers Øyvin Engan and Vemund Engan in 2012. Øyvin plays bass, guitar and takes charge of vocals. His brother Vemund is a guitarist. Both brothers used to play in the Trondheim-based punk rock band The Reilly Express. That was Øyvin and Vemund Engan’s musical apprenticeship.
The Reilly Express’ career began in 2001, when they released their Bleeding Hearts E.P. on the Norwegian underground label, Luftwaffel Records. However, it was another three years before The Reilly Express released their debut album.
Dizzy was released in 2004, on Luftwaffel Records. This was the first of a trio of albums released by The Reilly Express. It was a case of full steam ahead for the Trondheim based band.
They returned in 2004 with their sophomore album, Ways Of Falling. This sixteen track epic was released on the short-lived Cutwater Records. It was long gone by the time The Reilly Express returned with their third album.
Howl, Shake and Boogie was released in 2009, on Timber Records. The label was setup with express purpose of releasing The Reilly Express’ third album Howl, Shake and Boogie. It was a glorious fusion of of punk, blues and rock. The Reilly Express’ third album was hailed as their finest hour. However, it was also their swan-song.
With The Reilly Express now consigned to Norwegian musical history, the the Engan brothers were looking for a new musical vehicle. This would become Black Moon Circle. All they needed was a drummer.
Completing Black Moon Circle’s lineup was drummer, Per Andreas Gulbrandsen on drums. He was the final piece of the jigsaw. Now Black Moon Circle could set about honing their sound.
Gradually, Black Moon Circle’s sound began to evolve. It’s essentially a combination of lengthy jams, searing guitar riffs and a myriad of effects added to the bass and guitar. This Black Moon Circle describe as space rock band. They’re not alone.
There are numerous other Norwegian space rock bands. This includes Earthless and Colour Haze, two of the finest purveyors of space rock. Black Moon Circle are just the latest space rock band. They’ve been creating space rock with a twist since 2013.
Black Moon Circle are, essentially, a power trio, who create their unique brand of psychedelic space rock. Their roots are firmly and unashamedly in the past. The basis for the music Black Moon Circle are making can be found in the classic rock of the sixties and seventies, psychedelia and space rock. To this, Black Moon Circle add elements of electronica, experimental music and free jazz. Seamlessly, these disparate musical genres and influences merge into something new and innovative. It’s cinematic, dramatic, futuristic, moody, rocky and as Øyvin Engan says, “intense.”
This intensity is deliberate. It comes courtesy of the three members of Black Moon Circle. They deploy layers of fuzzy guitars, spacey, lysergic synths and a mesmeric rhythm section. When all this is combined, the result is space rock Black Moon Circle style.
The first example of this came in 2013, when Black Moon Circle recorded their eponymous, debut, mini-album, at Nautilus studios in 2013. Black Moon Circle was then released in February 2014 by Space Rock Productions, the label run by the Øresund Space Collective from Copenhagen, Denmark. However, Black Moon Circle weren’t the type of band to let the grass grow under their feet.
No. Black Moon Circle returned to the studio in April 2014. That’s when Black Moon Circle recorded Andromeda. They worked quickly and efficiently. As a result, the five songs on Andromeda were recorded in one day. Six months later, Andromeda, Black Moon Circle’s debut album was ready for release.
After just a year together, Black Moon Circle had come a long way. They were forging a reputation as one of Trondheim’s best new bands. What’s more, they had released their eponymous mini album. Now, the crowning glory was their debut album Andromeda. It was released by Crispin Clover Records, in cooperation with Stickman Records in October 2014. Andromeda, was the perfect introduction to Black Moon Circle.
Opening Andromeda, is The Machine On The Hill. Per Andreas Gulbrandsen’s drums set the scene for the Engan brothers. A guitar reverberates and a buzzing bass enters. Effects are unleashed. What sounds like a howling wind, accompanies Øyvin’s pensive vocal. Meanwhile, sci-fi sounds and feedback are unleashed. Then Black Moon Circle become one. Vemund and Per join Øyvin on vocals, as they showcase their unique version of space rock. There’s even a nod to Hawkwind. That’s not all. What follows is a glorious melange of classic rock, psychedelia and futuristic, sci-fi sounds. Innovative but also harking back to the golden age or rock, it’s a potent fusion that sure whet’s the listener’s appetite, as Black Moon Circle continue to unleash their own brand of psychedelic space rock.
For nine minutes, Black Moon Circle unleashes blistering, searing guitar licks. Literally, they do toe-to-toe. They’re laden with effects, while the rest of the rhythm section become a powerhouse. It’s a glorious combination and the perfect showcase for space rock pioneers Black Moon Circle, in full flight. A pounding, thunderous rhythm section create a slow, dramatic introduction to Jack’s Cold Sweat. This is the perfect backdrop for Øyvin’s vocal. It starts off slow and moody, growing in power and presence. Per and Vemund add harmonies, as guitars soar above the arrangement, drums pound and the buzzing bass makes its presence felt. Black Moon Circle, are at their best when they kick loose. In full flight, Black Moon Circle are a tight, talented group. This is what music sounded like in the days of Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple. That music will bnever die. In Norway, groups like Motorpsycho, Moster! and Black Moon Circle fly the flag for the golden age of rock.
Supernova has a moody, ominous sound. The arrangement unfolds in waves. Its dark sound buzzes. Drums and a crystalline guitar play. Along with Øyvin’s wistful vocal, they’re responsible for a sound that’s reminiscent of Pink Floyd. Effects are added to the arrangement. As a result, it frames Øyvin’s vocal. It’s the perfect foil for a vocal that’s full of sadness and melancholy. Tinged with regret and emotion, Øyvin delivers the vocal like he’s lived the lyrics. The rest of Black Moon Circle play their part in what’s without doubt the highlight of Andromeda.
Just a lone guitar opens Dragon. Having set the scene, Øyvin’s husky, dramatic vocal enters. Soon, the rest of Black Moon Circle enter. The rhythm section provide the heartbeat, while a myriad of effects are added. A wind blows, the arrangement bubbles and futuristic, sci-fi sounds emerge from the arrangement. Mostly, though it’s Øyvin’s that grabs your attention. Everything else is playing a supporting role. Only when the vocal briefly drops out, do the rest of Black Moon Circle showcase their considerable talents. Then Black Moon Circle kick loose, and searing, howling, braying guitars join the driving, churning rhythm section on this nine minute Magnus Opus, where we hear two sides of the hugely talented Black Moon Circle.
The title-track Andromeda closes Black Moon Circle’s latest albums. It’s another epic track, lasting fifteen magnificent minutes. At the start, it’s just Øyvin’s thoughtful, powerful vocal. He’s joined by the rhythm section. Straight away, they make their presence felt. So do the searing, choppy, shimmering guitars. Always, though, they leave space for the heartfelt, dramatic vocal. When the vocal drops out, Black Moon Circle get the opportunity to stretch their legs. Slowly, and purposely, they play. Choppy guitars reverberate, a buzzy bass howls and pulsates. All the time, drums provide the heartbeat. Guitars steal the show. Howling, searing and blistering machine gun licks are unleashed, as Black Moon Circle lock into a groove. The result is a mesmeric, hypnotic and dramatic rock epic, where Black Moon Circle join the Norway’s musical elite.
Andromeda, the latest musical missive from Norwegian space rock pioneers, Black Moon Circle is an old school album. It features five tracks lasting forty-five minutes. This is how albums used to be, back in the days of classic rock. Back then, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple were Unholy Trinity of Rock. Albums were very different.
They weren’t sprawling, unfocused affairs featuring eighteen tracks. No. Instead, they featured between seven and ten tracks. These tracks featured on albums made of vinyl. That’s the way Black Moon Circle do things. They’re an old school band with a huge future ahead of them.
Over five tracks, Black Moon Circle the quintessential power trio, combine elements of classic rock, psychedelia and space rock on Andromeda. Sometimes, there’s a nod to Led Zeppelin, Hawkwind and Pink Floyd. That’s not all. Black Moon Circle remind me of their fellow countrymen, Motorpsycho and Moster!, two other pioneering Norwegian groups. The latest name to be added this list of Norwegian musical pioneers, are Black Moon Circle.
It’s no exaggeration to say, that Black Moon Circle, are one of the most exciting, talented and pioneering Norwegian groups. They’re flying the flag proudly for classic rock and space rock. This is the case on Black Moon Circle’s latest album Andromeda, which features a coming of age from the multitalented Norwegian power trio, who have a huge future in front of them.
The Studio Jams Volume I: Yellow Nebula In The Sky.
After the commercial success and critical acclaim that accompanied Andromeda, a great future was forecast for Black Moon Circle. No wonder. Black Moon Circle are one of the most talented bands in the Nordic music scene. They’re also one of the most ambitious. Why?
While most bands don’t plan any further than their next single or E.P., Black Moon Circle plan to release a trilogy of albums in the next two years. They’re no ordinary album. Instead, they’re a trilogy of studio jams. The first instalment is The Studio Jams Volume I: Yellow Nebula In The Sky. It was recently released on limited edition vinyl, by Crispin Glover Records. It’s the next chapter in the Black Moon Circle story and sees the band joined by a new name.
For the first in Black Moon Circle’s trilogy of studio jams, it seems fitting that they recorded a trio of length jams. One of the tracks was recorded during the first jam session in April 2013, while the other two tracks were recorded in 2014. Joining Black Moon Circle were Scott Heller Scott Heller the synth player in Øresund Space Collective. He plays an important part in the three tracks which became The Studio Jams Volume I: Yellow Nebula In The Sky. It showcases the hugely talented Trondheim Black Moon Circle at their genre-melting best.
The Studio Jams Volume I: Yellow Nebula In The Sky has been eagerly-awaited. What direction were Black Moon Circle heading? When I asked Øyvin Engan, one the founding members of Black Moon Circle, he described The Studio Jams Volume I: Yellow Nebula In The Sky, as: “all about intensity. “Intense heavy fuzzed out guitars, blasting bass and drums and spaced out synthesisers. This is an intense instrumental trip with some killer jamming from the entire band.”
That’s the perfect description of Black Moon Circle’s sophomore album, Andromeda. It was released to widespread critical acclaim, and sounded as if it had been partly inspired by the sixties and seventies, the golden age of rock. That becomes clear.
Closed Loop Circle opens side one of The Studio Jams Volume I: Yellow Nebula In The Sky. What sounds like a howling gale is accompanied by a bounding bass. It reverberates into the distance while drums add an element of drama. Synths beep and squeak, like a siren sending out a warning. A blistering, searing fuzzed-out guitar cuts through the slow, moody, cinematic arrangement. Soon, a fuzzy guitar unleashes a wall of feedback. It’s controlled though, in a Hendrex-esque manner. Meanwhile, the bass bounds along. By then, Black Moon Circle are seamlessly combining elements of electronica, experimental, free jazz, psychedelia, rock and space rock. As musical genres combine, Black Moon Circle are locked into a groove, creating a rocky, psychedelic, space age soundtrack for a film that’s yet to be made. In doing so, Black Moon Circle showcase their considerable skills.
Sea of Vapors is the other track on side two of The Studio Jams Volume I: Yellow Nebula In The Sky. Futuristic, space-age sounds are scene setters, before the rhythm section enter. They lock into a groove, playing within themselves. As they do, Black Moon Circle sound like a power trio from the seventies. That’s no bad thing, as it was the golden age of rock. Listening to Black Moon Circle is like being transported back to another time and place. Meanwhile, a scorching guitar and bass cut through the arrangement, and drums provide the heartbeat. The futuristic synths give the impression that Black Moon Circle are under attack from an alien nation. When the synths drop out, a blistering guitar solo is unleashed. It soars higher and higher, and is best described as a gravity defying masterclass. Later, the arrangement takes on a darker sound. However, there’s another surprise is store. It’s another scorching guitar solo, which is accompanied by space invader synths. Together, they lighten the mood, as Black Moon Circle drive this musical Magnus Opus to even greater heights. Psychedelic space rock doesn’t get better than this.
The whole of side two of The Studio Jams Volume I: Yellow Nebula In The Sky is given over to Yellow Nebula in the Sky. It’s a twenty-two minute epic where Black Moon Circle stretch their legs. There’s plenty of opportunity to head off on a musical voyage of discovery. Washes of whirling synths set the scene for a crunchy, rocky guitar. Soon, Black Moon Circle unite, and become a power trio. They unleash a dramatic, rocky backdrop. Atop the arrangement a myriad of futuristic synths float. These sounds are twisted and transformed. Meanwhile, a blistering, crunchy guitar threatens to feedback and Black Moon Circle’s rhythm section relentlessly drive the arrangement along. Later, sirens sound, squeak and beep. They’re the perfect foil to Black Moon Circle as they kick loose and get into the tightest of grooves. Everything from electronica, psychedelia, rock and space rock melts into one. The result is music that’s gloriously loud, rocky, dramatic and mesmeric. Black Moon Circle never miss a beat on this epic track, as they show why they’re one of the rising stars of the Nordic music scene.
That’s no exaggeration. Black Moon Circle are, without doubt, one of the most exciting, talented and innovative Norwegian groups. Proof of that, is The Studio Jams Volume I: Yellow Nebula In The Sky. It finds Black Moon Circle picking up where they left off on Andromeda. They take their trailblazing sound much further on The Studio Jams Volume I: Yellow Nebula In The Sky. That’s not surprising, as Black Moon Circle are a hugely talented band. They’re also ambitious.
Very few bands plan three albums ahead. However, Black Moon Circle do. They’ve got their future mapped out. Black Moon Circle make things happen, and are have the potential to become one of leading lights of the Nordic music scene. However, Black Moon Circle won’t stop there.
Black Moon Circle’s music is now finding an audience much further afield. Across Europe, record buyers have been introduced to Black Moon Circle. They’ve been won over by Black Moon Circle’s fusion of the music of the past and present. This creates the music of the future.
To create the music of the future, Black Moon Circle draw inspiration from the golden age of rock. They’ve been inspired by Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Hawkwind, Deep Purple, early Pink Floyd and Jimi Hendrix. They’ve also been inspired by Krautrock Kings Can and Neu!. Closer to home, fellow Nordic rockers Motorpsycho and Moster! have influenced Black Moon Circle. They’re a band for the 21st Century, whose roots are firmly and proudly in the past.
Essentially, Black Moon Circle are a classic power trio. The golden age of the power trio was the late-sixties, early seventies. Back then, groups like Cream and the Jimi Hendrix Experience were at the peak of their powers. Since then, several generations of power trios have enjoyed commercial success and critical acclaim. Mow it’s Black Moon Circle’s turn to enjoy commercial success and critical acclaim?
They’ve got the talent and ambition. Their unique brand of psychedelic space rock, which features on The Studio Jams Volume I: Yellow Nebula In The Sky, has been released to critical acclaim and commercial success. The basis for The Studio Jams Volume I: Yellow Nebula In The Sky was the classic rock of the sixties and seventies, psychedelia and space rock. To this, Black Moon Circle add elements of electronica, experimental music and free jazz. Seamlessly, these disparate musical genres and influences merge into something new and innovative. It’s cinematic, dramatic, futuristic, moody, rocky and as Øyvin Engan says, “intense.”
This intensity is deliberate. It comes courtesy of the three members of Black Moon Circle. They deploy layers of fuzzy guitars, spacey, lysergic synths and a mesmeric rhythm section. When all this is combined, the result is the next instalment in the Black Moon Circle story, The Studio Jams Volume I: Yellow Nebula In The Sky. It’s without doubt the best album of Black Moon Circle’s career. That’s why, for anyone yet to discover Black Moon Circle, The Studio Jams Volume I: Yellow Nebula In The Sky is the perfect introduction to the Norwegian psychedelic space rock pioneers at their hard rocking best.
That’s no exaggeration. Black Moon Circle reach for the stars on The Studio Jams Volume I: Yellow Nebula In The Sky, which is a career-defining Magnus Opus from one of the rising stars of the vibrant Nordic music scene.,
BLACK MOON CIRCLE-THE STORY SO FAR.
- Posted in: Free Jazz ♦ Psychedelia ♦ Rock ♦ Space Rock
- Tagged: Andromeda, Øyvin Engan, Black Moon Circle, Per Andreas Gulbrandsen, The Reilly Express, Vemund Engan