Album Review: Circle 60 – Sawn Off Shot Gold

Psychedelic Octopus Space Adventure, ahoy!!

Sawn Off Shot Gold is a psychedelic space adventure for the 21st century, and one that channels a heady combination of 1967 and 1977 as well as 2019. Made up of equal parts Pretty Things, Who, Todd Rundgren’s The Nazz, as well as part-The Damned, with hints of The Raconteurs, Circle 60 have made a futurist record with foundations in and referencing, but not reverential to, the past.

Describing themselves as psychedelic punks, and something of a West-London supergroup, Circle 60 have an impressive heritage, comprising members of several successful bands over the previous two decades including Muse, Gorillaz, Delakota, Senseless Things and, perhaps more unexpectedly, Penguin Café Orchestra. In the rhythm section they boast a unique pair in Cass Browne and Morgan Nicholls who have played together in various forms since they were youthful teenagers, imagine Rat Scabies playing with John Entwistle.

There is a psychedelic and exploratory narrative at play, with mentions of Terence McKenna and HG Wells in their press release suggesting the fantasy inside, and plenty of lyrical references as well as backward guitar and vocal effects on the record to support this. Songs like Portobello Stare hint of classic 60’s subject matter of wistful yearning for people and places, while Drive, Drive, Drive and The Octopus take us out into an opium filled futuristic dream. Read Your Mind has Browne channelling his inner Scabies driving the beat at pace. Nicholl’s bass is often the central force in the songs, dancing around Browne’s rhythms and the guitar lines and vocal melodies of singer/ guitarist Ade Emsley and rhythm player Des Murphy.

Sawn Off Shot Gold gives us something we haven’t had, in what feels like, a long time, a confident, well-articulated concept from a rock band – like the Pretty Things’ S.F. Sorrow borne out of Brexit. Anger and frustration are wrapped up with the yearning for psychic adventures and love, and perhaps a bunch of drugs. To quote the run off groove commentary of the band caught post-take, specifically Cass Browne’s encouragement for us all to “F*cking,eat that”. Yes, like Alice down the rabbit hole, I will indeed answer in the affirmative with a “hell yeah, give me exploration”.

Sawn Off Shot Gold is one for the audiophiles too, only available on vinyl, no digital or CD release for this beauty, the album is delivered on Twin Vinyl – Eight Tracks – Two tracks a side – cut at 45rpm – on a Scully lathe. “To make this the loudest and clearest and most pristine piece of vinyl achievable”.

English Jake

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