Part Two of my song-by-song review of the Portland, Oregon Neo-Progressive band Seven Second Circle.
The shortest song on the album and a sorrow swept song of sincerity and regret.
The vocals are calm and felt all around as the guitar pulls on the strings of life. The drums carry you like the arms of that loving aunt you lost years ago when you were still a child and your innocence was lost at that moment. The bass snakes its way through the vines of chords and sweeps of the others. Jazz like progressions are delivered to create a smoky atmosphere by the guitar as it whirls around the fretboard in minor chords. Vocally this is the softest and heartfelt tone given here. It’s not that the band couldn’t care less, the exact opposite; the utmost care was put in to this ballad of grief and coming to peace with the world, yourself, your soul.
Drop downs in the drums collapse quietly as the guitar steps out before the vocals go up half a step and the bass which sounds like an upright or chapman stick draw from the waters of tears here to combine everything together in a web of blanketed sound.
A sweet shuffle in to this song that evokes a tone that revels in a region of sighs and is an ancient tome opened up for one last time. The song incorporates subtle keyboards as a birdsong of flight in it to help the flow of the acoustic guitar. The drums are definitely a driving force here with their fills and rolls as they create anger that is bittersweet but stand out. The bass is mindful here and takes its place in the background and generates the continuous despondency that the song relates to us. The song is a giveaway to the title but for each listener it will vary as to what they are bitter about. I appreciate the keyboards here; they have given their due diligence in being an undercurrent here that helps set the mood to the song’s timbre. The guitar takes a second seat here and just does exactly what it should be doing, being bitter. The tone of the guitar isn’t harsh or eloquent here but somewhere in between and a bitter tone has been perfectly achieved.
Vocally this is an ending before the beginning. Cautiously crafted to go through the motions and harmonizing in spots where it needs it most. The voice has been selected for tone carefully here as well as the harmonies to create that bitterness but soulful regret as well. Just under six minutes the voice is constructed of loss, regret, possible hatred in a passive way and the music continues down the same path. It gives the Neo-prog sound a sense of comfort knowing that it’s been a bitter journey getting where its’ landed its feet in the 21st century.
As the song says,” Just the way they are”. This is how the song is presented to us. Just that, as is. This straight up hard driving song gives us a song to drive to, whatever it is you are doing. It’s direct and to the point. Everything is hooked up together here. The tone is medium set with all the levels right down the centre here. Titled and executed perfectly for this well constructed song. The guitar tone in the onset relays a twang reminiscent of early UK psychedelia then drops to a full on tour de force with the rest of the band coming in accordingly adding in the rest of the tone and tempo to fashion a track that will certainly perform out well live. The drums shuffle the rhythm giving us a groove again a collaboration of several styles of predecessors of the genre. The bass ever present and carrying the song through its tenure here and being the low lying mudslinger that makes the song, “dirty”. Finally, vocally, a no bullshit-here-it-is, take it or leave it distinction of I’m done that states his point of view faultlessly and no regrets.
The most upbeat song on the album but not one to be ignored in the slightest. A brisk shuffle introduction that tells you that there’s light in parts of the world still and you can sing about things in a lighter context and NOT be a pop band. This song brings a pleasantry to the album different than the others as its major chord progressions and upswing basslines along with a drum pattern that details its every move compliment the vocals as they define a trait that they work as a well-oiled machine in every sense of the Neo-Prog movement. The snare shots are direct and prominent with being just before a vocal harmony morsel that then brings the song back to the upswing tempo. Fluid acoustic work done here that rises to the occasion and carries forth the complacency of another voice on this track. A slower than normal fade away at the end lends a helping hand to this song giving it rest assurance that it would do it well to allow it time to be absorbed well in to our psyches. The vocals here are that of a faintness gathered in a stream of words pooled in waters calm that only shadow the bass line as it feels for the surrender of the tone underfoot in soft brush. Hope definitely charts its lands here generously with lush tones and harmonies that create a simple execution for SSC.
Nothing Less Than Nothing
The longest song on the album here opening up with a nostalgic acoustic riff of playing old Rush albums at parties in someone’s basement in the late seventies/early eighties. A very tribal trounce to this song as it gallops along and we’re broken in to a whirl of a circling musical cavalcade here. Every instrument including vocals are present in the sense that they are all dancing in a circular motion as the song presents us with a sea of madness and a world torn in two as the song sings just that to us. The longest song on the album and doesn’t trail off or bore us at any point. The mid- section is very reminiscent of the dog barking loop middle portion of Pink Floyd’s Dogs (Animals Lp 1977) with the repetition but no dogs here to bark or chase sheep with. The harmonies overlap each other in perfection and then we jump back in to the song that carries us to the ending’s fade away of sandpaper guitar sustain. The bounce is what gives this song its life source and fluidity here. Usually long songs can tire people out even for die-hard Proggers but SSC doesn’t hold back and offers up a serving complete with length and sincerity. The acoustic work like on so many of their other songs here is a distinct power player in their music as the distortion based guitar riffs come a sharp second behind. The drums here are tightly wound like a freshly made clock and the bass brings up the heavy brigade of the gear stored in their musical arsenal with precision walk downs and bolsters the vocal track to be allowed to pounce the mic and give us what for so-to-speak. Each member of the band compliments each others input in this song as with Progressive rock should be and really any band of any genre would but not always the case, here I find that SSC doesn’t have a single ruler or musical dictator, (Hey Roger Waters are you listening?!), but they all work together as a collaborative workforce that produces a collective sound and with this song we have a shining example of just that.