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Music Review: Russian Circles – Geneva

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I don’t know what it is about post-rock and autumn but they seem to go together like witches and broomsticks. The relief of having the oppressive heat and humidity of summer gone, the shortening of the daylight hours, the beautiful, crisp air accentuated by highlights of orange, red and yellow leaves heighten the senses and invite the mysteriousness and dark pleasures of a soundscape devoid of human voice.

Enter Geneva, the new album from Chicago-based Russian Circles. After being captivated by their 2006 release Enter and 2008’s Station I’ve been dying for more. With their impeccable ability to produce layer upon layer of dense environments with the use of only one guitar, one bass, and one drummer, they keep me entranced throughout each and every one of their songs. Plus, they’re satisfying my love affair with autumn by releasing their new album right in the middle of it!

I’ve heard other fans of the band say how they were disappointed with Station, but being that it was the first album that I had heard from Russian Circles, I never experienced this. After hearing Enter I quickly understood where they were coming from though. Enter is a masterpiece from start to finish and represents the more aggressive and dense side of the band, whereas Station is a little more laid-back and ventures off into the more minimalistic side of post-rock at times.

Whichever side of the fence you’re on, get ready to fall in love with Geneva. From the very start of the first track “Fathom,” you’ll quickly notice something different — there are a cello and violin on this album! I love all orchestral instruments and the cello and violin go beautifully with the music that Russian Circles create. The song is very powerful and the discordant layers of guitar and violin add to the ferocity and desperateness of the track. It’s everything you loved about Enter and then some.

The title track “Geneva” gives us another dose of aggression and you’re definitely going to notice that crunchy, driving bass that enters around the two-minute mark, courtesy of Brian Cook (ex-Botch/These Arms Are Snakes). In fact, the bass tones on the whole album are phenomenal, and along with the effects and looping that accompany it, seem to mark new territory for the band.

Speaking of bass, the entrance of “Melee” features a distorted, delayed out, swelling bassline which is pure beauty. This is followed by an entrancing violin section which makes for maybe one of the most uplifting moments ever experienced in a Russian Circles song. In “Melee” we also hear that classic drumming on the snare rim thing that Dave Turncrantz is fond of doing. I love every second of it.

The composition of Geneva is above and beyond anything the band has done previously. The doomsday-esque feelings of their bridges and interludes caress you with a gentle, reassuring suggestion that, even though the world is ending, there still might be hope for us all. Does that sound a little melodramatic to you? If so, then you haven’t experienced this yet! Either that or you have no heart.

“Malko” is the song that the band has released as a quasi-single. Again, fans of Enter will wet themselves when they hear this track as will anybody else with a real appreciation of music. Mike Sullivan’s mastery of looping and effects will tear you to pieces as this song maintains its aggression throughout.

“When the Mountain Comes to Muhammad” and “Philos,” the last two tracks of the album, are perhaps the dreariest, and most desolate songs on the album. They paint us a picture of a world in ruin, a world where few humans roam the earth and where Russian Circles will lead you to safety.

“When the Mountain Comes to Muhammad” features some subtle trombone work, which may scare you to hear, but in the context it is used adds to the desperation of the track quite well. To put it plainly: I’m in love with Geneva.

To all of you people who have prematurely written your “Best Albums of 2009″ lists, I say to you now, relinquish your sin! 2009 is not over and you have yet to hear Geneva! Russian Circles have ensured that my autumn season will be filled with beautiful pot-rock (that was a typo but I think it works just fine) and I’ll be adding this one to my “Favorite Albums” list.

Check out this page on Suicide Squeeze Records to hear Geneva in it’s entirety.

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  • Tibberclaw

    I’m one of the few who liked Stations more than Enter. I think I like Geneva more than both though. This album finally allows me to say I think Russian Circles > Pelican.

  • Patrick

    Great review and album!