The Bodhisattva Beat
Music and Life

Circle: Foreign Skies

Foreign Skies: 1986

Foreign Skies: 1986

CIRCLE is a difficult band to evaluate. In the first place, their albums were pressed in limited numbers, and were never released on CD. Once the music itself is found, then comes the task of deciphering what is going on here. If I hadn’t had the chance to converse with Volker Stern, there would have been much more guessing involved. What he told me is plainly borne out on “Foreign Skies.” This is a band being pulled in two directions. It is a tug of war between ’80s pop, and prog.

The poppier moments aren’t really bad, but they are very much of the time. The same is true of the instrumentation, and production elements. There is no doubt that this album came from the mid ’80s. The problem is that this can get on my nerves a bit. This is very evident is the opening track, “Why Don’t We Fear.” If I had just casually found this album, I may have dismissed it right away. Luckily, it is saved when the proggier passages ensue.

The vocals are reminiscent of Supertramp, as are some of the instrumental stylings. It is also very much in line with a lot of the Neo-Prog sounds of the period. There are moments when you might think Mark Kelly was doing a guest appearance. When in full prog mode, it can be very lush and passionate. “More Than a Nightmare” is a very good example of this. There are many moments like this, right alongside some obvious attempts at commercial viability. It’s an odd thing to hear, but the quality moments are worth it.

As much as I do enjoy the prog highs here, it is not especially unique. There is nothing that is really going to knock your socks off. It’s a rarity, and worth getting if you happen to run across it (and have the capacity to play vinyl). I just wouldn’t recommend investing a lot of time and money in tracking it down.

Frank P.R. – vocals and guitar
Andreas Franke – guitar
Volker Stern – keyboards
Ingo Jannes – keyboards
Michael Braun – bass guitar
Josef Kirschgen – drums

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