BLACK MOON CIRCLE-THE STUDIO JAMS VOLUME 2.

BLACK MOON CIRCLE-THE STUDIO JAMS VOLUME 2.

Nowadays, not many bands announce that they intend to release a trilogy of albums over the next couple of years. However, that’s exactly what Trondheim based psychedelic space rock band Black Moon Circle did in mid-2015. They announced their intention to release three albums of studio jams. The first instalment was The Studio Jams Volume I: Yellow Nebula In The Sky, which was released to critical acclaim on the 14th August 2015. This whetted the critics and record buyer’s appetite for the next instalments in the Studio Jams’ series.

Before that, Black Moon Circle returned with their much anticipated third album Sea Of Clouds on 15th April 2016. Black Moon’s timing was impeccable, as this coincided with their appearance at the prestigious Roadburn Festival, in the Netherlands. That day, Black Moon Circle showcased Sea Of Clouds, which had already won praise and plaudits from critics.  Meanwhile, Black Moon Circle’s thoughts had already turned to their next album.

Nearly seven months later, and Black Moon Circle are preparing for the next instalment in The Studio Jams’ series. This is The Studio Jams Volume 2, which will be released on vinyl by Crispin Glover Records on 11th November 2016. The Studio Jams Volume 2 is an eagerly awaited fourth album from Black Moon Circle. Their career began in 2012. 

That was when brothers Øyvin Engan and Vemund Engan formed Norwegian psychedelic space rock band, Black Moon Circle. This wasn’t the Engan brothers first band. No. They were previously, members of Trondheim-based punk rock band The Reilly Express. That was the past.

By 2012, the Engan brothers were ready to form their own band. However, it wasn’t another punk rock band. Instead, Black Moon Circle would become a psychedelic space rock band. Øyvin, played bass, guitar and takes charge of vocals. His brother Vemund was also a guitarist. Now all that Black Moon Circel 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 psychedelic space rock. They’re not alone.

Black Moon Circle are just one of many Norwegian space rock bands. Earthless and Colour Haze are two other  bands, who are flying the flag for space rock worldwide. In Black Moon Circle’s case, they’ve been doing this since 2013.

That’s 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 aren’t the type of band to let the grass grow under their feet. 

Andromeda.

Instead,  Black Moon Circle returned to the studio in April 2014. That’s when Black Moon Circle recorded Andromeda, their first full length album. They worked quickly and efficiently. As a result, the five songs on Andromeda were recorded in one day. Six months later, and Andromeda was ready to be released.

Black Moon Circle’s sophomore album, Andromeda, was released by Crispin Clover Records, to critical acclaim in October 2014. A great future was forecast for the Trondheim based trio. They were already hatching a plan that sounded like something from the seventies, the golden age of rock.

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The Studio Jams Volume I: Yellow Nebula in the Sky.

What Black Moon Circle had in mind was a trilogy of studio jams. The first of this trilogy of albums is The Studio Jams Volume I: Yellow Nebula in the Sky. Fittingly, it features a trio tracks. One of the tracks was recorded during the first jam session in April 2013, while the other two tracks were recorded in 2014. These three tracks became The Studio Jams Volume I: Yellow Nebula in the Sky, which showcases the hugely talented Trondheim trio, Black Moon Circle.

The Studio Jams Volume I: Yellow Nebula in the Sky was Black Moon Circle’s sophomore album. It features their unique brand of  psychedelic space rock with elements of electronica, experimental music and free jazz added for good measure. 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 deployed layers of fuzzy guitars, spacey, lysergic synths and a mesmeric rhythm section on The Studio Jams Volume I: Yellow Nebula In The Sky. However, for their fourth album, Sea Of Clouds Black Moon Circle add two new ingredients to their successful musical formula.

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Sea Of Clouds.

With The Studio Jams Volume I: Yellow Nebula In The Sky recorded, but not yet released, Black Moon Circle’s thoughts turned to their third album. This wasn’t another instalment in the Studio Jams’ series. Instead, what became Sea Of Clouds found Black Moon Circle changing direction slightly.

Having written four new tracks, the Trondheim based trio returned to the studio in June 2015. Øyvin Engan played guitar and bass, while his brother Vemund Engan added another layer of fuzzy guitars. Providing the heartbeat was drummer Per Andreas Gulbrandsen. Together they recorded flour lengthy jams in just one day, However, that wasn’t the end of the story.

A month later, during July 2015, Black Moon Circle returned to the studio. This time,  keyboards  keyboards were added. Øyvin Engan also added vocals to the four lengthy tracks on Sea Of Clouds. This result was a very different album to The Studio Jams Volume I: Yellow Nebula In The Sky.

Nearly nine months later, and buoyed by the critical acclaim thatThe Studio Jams Volume I: Yellow Nebula In The Sky received, Black Moon Circle released A Sea Of Clouds on 15th April 2016. Øyvin Engan describes the new album as: “prolonged jams with heavy riffage, the extensive use of effects on bass and guitar and analogue synths oscillating with echoes and delays.” This was guaranteed to win over Black Moon Circle’s over growing fan-base.

That was the case. Sea Of Clouds was the most anticipated album of space rock pioneer Black Moon Circle’s four year career.  It features the Trondheim-based space rockers at their groundbreaking best, as they continue to reinvent themselves. The music on Sea Of Clouds is melodic and anthemic. It’s also hard rocking. 

This is what we’ve come to expect from Black Moon Circle. Their three previous albums have featured Black Moon Circle showcasing their hard rocking brand of psychedelic, space rock. On Sea Of Clouds, Black Moon Circle revisit this sound, but combine elements of heavy metal, Krautrock, avant-garde, free jazz and post rock. Black Moon Circle have also drawn inspiration from Black Sabbath, Can, Deep Purple, Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Hawkwind, Iron Maiden, Led Zeppelin, Hawkwind, Moster, Motorpsycho, Radiohead and Yes. These  disparate musical genres and influences merged into something new and innovative on Sea Of Clouds, which was a musical tour de force. The big question was, what now for Black Moon Circle.

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The Studio Jams Volume 2.

Having reinvented themselves on Sea Of Clouds, critics and their ever growing and loyal fan-base wondered what direction Black Moon Circle’s would. All will become clear on The Studio Jams Volume 2.

Black Moon Circle will return to the familiar sound of  The Studio Jams Volume I: Yellow Nebula In The Sky on The Studio Jams Volume 2. This means a combination “lengthy jams, heavy riffage and the extensive use of effects.” They’ve used on the “bass,  guitar and analogue synths, oscillating with echoes and delays.” These effects were created by none other than “Dr. Space.” They were put to good use when Black Moon Circle entered the studio.

With work due to begin on The Studio Jams Volume 2, Black Moon Circle headed to the Nautilus Studio. This had been the scene of Black Moon Circle’s past musical glories. It was where they would record one forty-five minute track live. It’s split into two parts on The Studio Jams Volume 2. The Head a twenty-four minute epic takes up side one of The Studio Jams Volume 2. Meanwhile, on the second side, The Tail is lasts the best part of seventeen minute. These two jams are the perfect showcase for the combined and considerable talents of Black Moon Circle. Their lineup had a familiar look when recording of The Studio Jams Volume 2 began. 

At the Nautilus Studi, bassist and guitarist Øyvin Engan slotted into the rhythm section alongside drummer, Per Andreas Gulbrandsen and guitarist Vemund Engan. Dr. Space himself, Scott Heller  plays analogue synths on The Head and The Tail. These two tracks were produced by Black Moon Circle and would become the eagerly awaited second instalment in the Studio Jams trilogy, The Studio Jams Volume 2.

The Head opens The Studio Jams Volume 2. A bass is plucked and slapped, as a brief burst of scrabbled guitar gives way to windswept synths. Delay is added to  synths and they reverberate. Soon, sci-fi sounds are added, and the beeps, squeaks and squalls signal the entrance of the rhythm section. They play slowly and deliberately, as they lock into a dark, deliberate  groove. Drums crack as the dark, mesmeric bass and eerie, futuristic synths flit in and out. Soon, what sounds like a rocket takes off, adding to the cinematic sound that comes courtesy of the syths. They’re joined by a blistering rocky guitar, as effects are added as it cuts through the arrangement. By now, the arrangement is building and growing.

As the rhythm section lock into a groove, synths and guitars play leading roles. Sci-fi synths and a scorching Hendrix-inspired guitar are to the fore, in this genre-melting jam. Elements of space rock, psychedelia, progressive rock and heavy metal combine with Krautrock. Later, a guitar soars and screams, as it threatens to feedback. Meanwhile, the synths and guitars unleash myriad of otherworldly, dramatic and futuristic sounds. Still the rhythm section create a moody, pulsating backdrop. This is omnipresent, as the synths and guitars become chameleon like. Ghostly washes and an understated chiming guitar joint this magical musical mystery tour, as it meanders along. Against the pulsating backdrop, a guitar wah-wahs and shivers as a ghostly synths becomes a dramatic vortex. Later, blistering guitar solos are added, as the tempo increases and sci-fi synths are added, Together, they create an impressive sound, as Black Moon Create an atmospheric, cinematic, futuristic, lysergic in this epic genre-melting jam.

Given side one featured The Head, it seems on logical that side two would feature The Tail. Gradually, the distant arrangement grows in power and explodes into life, as Black Moon Circle kick loose. Their rhythm section and guitars drive the thunderous arrangement along. Meanwhile, sci-fi synths are unleashed as the arrangement becomes an express train. Not for long though. 

It’s soon stripped bare and just the rumbling bass and occasional bursts of futuristic synths are added. A guitar threatens to cut through the arrangement, but instead, allows the bass to enjoy its moment in the sun. It proves the perfect foil for the occasional sprays of dubby, space invader synths. Soon, though the effects laden guitar returns and shimmers into the distance. Still, the hypnotic bass anchors the arrangement, as the guitar veers between cinematic to uber rocky.  Drums are panned as otherworldly synths soar, beep and squeak. By now there’s a lysergic, dubby sound to the arrangement. Especially the drums,  guitars and even the bass. They’re joined by futuristic synths that beeps and squeaks, as a guitar scrabbles and squeals. Later, the rhythm section, scorching guitar and sci-fi synths unite. Gradually, the drama builds and the tempo rises, as Black Moon combine to create and and carefully craft one of the finest jams of their career. 

Just over a year after Black Moon Circle announced they intended to release a trilogy of albums over the next couple of years, they’ve released the second instalment in the series, The Studio Jams Volume 2. It’s the much anticipated followup to the critically acclaimed The Studio Jams Volume I: Yellow Nebula In The Sky. When I reviewed the album I said:  “if the next two volumes of The Studio Jams are as good as The Studio Jams Volume I: Yellow Nebula In The Sky, then they’ll be well worth buying.” That’s definitely the case, as The Studio Jams Volume 2 is the finest album of jams from the Trondheim based psychedelic space rock pioneers. However, that’s just part of the Black Moon Circle story.

The basis for Black Moon Circle’s music is the classic rock of the sixties and seventies, psychedelia and space rock. To this, Black Moon Circle add elements of avant-garde, electronica, experimental music,  free jazz, Krautrock and post rock. 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 four members of Black Moon Circle. They deploy layers of fuzzy guitars, spacey, lysergic, futuristic, sci-fi synths and a mesmeric rhythm section. They create two “lengthy jams” which features  “heavy riffage and the extensive use of effects.” They’re used extensively on the next instalment in the Black Moon Circle story, The Studio Jams Volume 2, where Black Moon Circle reach new heights.

Black Moon Circle are, without doubt, one of the most exciting, talented and innovative Norwegian groups. Considering how rich and vibrant the Nordic music scene is, that’s high praise indeed. They remind me of their fellow countrymen, Motorpsycho and Moster! That’s not all. It sounds as of Black Moon Circle have been influenced by Can, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Hawkwind, early Pink Floyd, Radiohead and Jimi Hendrix’s guitar playing. All these influences shine through on The Studio Jams Volume 2 which will be released on vinyl by Crispin Glover Records on 11th November 2016. This hard rocking opus, finds the Trondheim based psychedelic space rockers Black Moon Circle, reaching new heights, on their much-anticipated fourth album, The Studio Jams Volume 2.

BLACK MOON CIRCLE-THE STUDIO JAMS VOLUME 2.

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