Sound: Forgive the scene's superstition, but the third album is almost an expected milestone for a post-rock band. Your skinny fists, your ( )'s and your cold dead places are all third albums and are all unanimously given masterpiece' status by your Silent Ballets and your AfterThePostRocks. What, then, of Geneva', the third album by Russian Circles? A band who if last year's Station' is anything to go by may dare to reach heights utterly dizzying for anyone else?
Looking at the past, Carpe' has excited its listeners with its bold panache and Campaign' has submerged them in a whole new ocean of bliss; Fathom' revisits the source of it all, 2006's Enter', and starts to put together an album that builds on that foundation . In place of the usual trade-off between instruments, Geneva' initially plays more like the Dave Turncrantz show. It doesn't usually take long to recognize the drummer's ability but he seems so insistent on showcasing his skills that it takes guitarist Mike Sullivan and bassist Brian Cook a great many listens to catch up. So many, in fact, that my first draft of this review was more or less a self-indulgent lament over how such disappointment can be wrought upon one such as I. But catch up they do, and as they say, a wizard arrives precisely when he means to.
So, how does Geneva' look when you've seen its true form? It looks pretty nice, actually. It sits comfortably between Enter' and Station'; bassy rhythms cascade over Sullivan's eerie loops once again but the curveball additions of violin and cello (performed by Susan Voelz and Allison Chesley respectively) join the usual swells and feedback to flesh out the mellow moments. Fathom' and the title track in many ways seem dismembered from the rest of the album by their heaviness, however the energy of these two tracks pushes open the door for third track Melee' to walk through - the other four songs follow naturally. // 10
Lyrics: There are no words beyond the underlying samples of When The Mountain Comes To Muhammad' and Melee', which are presumably used for atmospheric (rather than poetic) purposes. // 9
Overall Impression: Maybe in the end Russian Circles don't need to reach new heights with each album, because Geneva' is not another step up the ladder. When it is uncovered, Geneva' has humility and personality. There truly is a comfort to be found in this album; its inaccessibility retains its aura, like a fireplace's resonating warmth when you come home on a cold day. It's exactly that feeling that Philos' leaves you with; not with one of climax or a completed circle, but with one of an ongoing love, an infinite pool of passion from which you can extract your pretentious babble. It's albums like this that make music what it is. // 10
- Duncan Geddes (c) 2009