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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Concert Wed May 07 2008

"Station" Identification: Russian Circles Release New Album, Take It On The Road

Considering that they've only been active for just over three years, the Chicago-based trio Russian Circles has managed to rack up a high ratio of praise throughout the webzine community in a short period of time. It seems there's something unique about the group's music that resonates with those who've heard it. The band's 2006 debut album, Enter, met with enthused accolades across the board, and quickly the landed them a slot on the top of the bill at Drowned In Sound's End-of-Summer festival in London last August. With the pending arrival of their sophomore LP, Station, Russian Circles are set to kick off another tour, beginning with a record-release party and a headlining set at Subterranean this Saturday evening.

Those who requested "more, please" after hearing Enter will be satisfied to find that its follow-up provides just that—six lengthy tracks of intricate and richly moody instrumentals. For lack of better descriptions, the band's music has been described as "math-metal" or as some vaguely metal-minded offshoot of shoegazing post-rock. That's as good a place to start as any, and there's enough evidence on Station to support the label as there is to refute it. The second track, "Harper Lewis," features the album's most overtly alloyed moves—beguiling the listener with a menacing, downtempo bass line and doleful chords before building into full-fledged Raid-of-the-Visigoths riffing. Similar sacking and pillaging continues on the album's title track (this time on horseback), and "Youngblood" gouges its way forward on proggy rhythmic counterpointing and oscillating apreggios.

All of that intensity and heaviness aside, Russian Circles are just as prone to mapping less ominous terrain—delving into compositions strewn with exquisite motifs and impressionistic textural swells, surges, and lulls that are more often gorgeous than they are foreboding. The group aims for arrangements of symphonic magnitude, but they usually do so by foregoing the gratuitous bombast, carnage-evoking climaxes, and cluttered baroquisms; instead opting for subtlety and a pared-down musical syntax. Sure, certain passages on Station might bring Metallica or Isis to mind, but there's plenty of precedents from the heavier end of indie-/post-rock spectrum (e.g. Mogwai, Godspeed Y!BE, Explosions In The Sky) that make for better points of comparison. In the end, a good bit of the appeal of Russian Circle's music might be that it covers so much artistic ground without fitting squarely in any one genre niche.

[video]: Russian Circles - "Harper Lewis" (Live, Wicker Park Fest 07)

{Station is available on the Suicide Squeeze label. Russian Circles, in conjunction with Alarm magazine, will be celebrating the album's release this Saturday night with a show at Subterranean. Tight Phantomz and Call Me Lightning support. Doors open at 8 PM, and the show gets underway at 9. Admission is $12, and the show is ages 17 and up. 2011 W. North Avenue.}

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »


  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
The Hood Internet
Jaded in Chicago
Largehearted Boy
Little White Earbuds
Live Fix Blog
Live Music Blog
Loud Loop Press
Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
Pop Matters
Resident Advisor
Sound Opinions
Sun-Times Music Blog
Theft Liable to Prosecution
Tribune Music
UR Chicago
Victim Of Time
WFMU's Beware of the Blog
Windy City Rock


Abbey Pub
Andy's Jazz Club
Aragon Ballroom
Auditorium Theatre
Beat Kitchen
Bottom Lounge
Buddy Guy's Legends
The Burlington
California Clipper
Concord Music Hall
Congress Theater
Cubby Bear
Double Door
Elbo Room
Empty Bottle
Green Mill
The Hideout
Honky Tonk BBQ
House of Blues
Kingston Mines
Lincoln Hall
Logan Square Auditorium
Mayne Stage
The Mutiny
Old Town School of Folk Music
Park West
The Promontory
Red Line Tap
Reggie's Rock Club & Music Joint
The Riviera
Thalia Hall
The Shrine
Symphony Center
Tonic Room
Uncommon Ground
The Vic
The Whistler

  Labels, Promoters
  & Shops:

Alligator Records
Beverly Records
Bloodshot Records
Dave's Records
Delmark Records
Drag City
Dusty Groove
Flameshovel Records
Groove Distribution
He Who Corrupts
Jam Productions
Jazz Record Mart
Kranky Records
Laurie's Planet of Sound
Minty Fresh
Numero Group
mP Shows
Permanent Records
Reckless Records
Smog Veil Records
Southport & Northport Records
Thick Records
Thrill Jockey Records Touch & Go/Quarterstick Records
Victory Records

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Transmission is the music section of Gapers Block. It aims to highlight Chicago music in its many varied forms, as well as cover touring acts performing in the city. More...
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