Cliffhanger - Circle. 2001 Netherlands

Circle is Cliffhanger's 4th, and apparently last, studio effort. As I recently stated on the NoVox review, this Dutch collective are among my favorites of those who play in the Neo Prog genre. And the primary reason for that is that Cliffhanger goes beyond the typical 80s Marillion type sound, and looks back to the origins of the movement itself: That of Selling England by the Nursery Foxtrot. The album opens up somewhat inauspiciously with the straightforward 'Limits', before climbing back onto the Genesis wagon with 'Autumn'. And from there it's all aces. Cliffhanger defiantly stick with analog gear, or at the very least, attempt to sound like a band from the 70s. Thick wedgy organ, psychedelic guitar, and woody bass define this mature work. Admittedly Rinie Huigen's heavily accented voice takes a bit to adjust to, but once you have, you'll find the music fits perfectly with his intonation. The final instrumental 'Chateau Jam' demonstrates that Cliffhanger could have been a successful space rock band if they had wished. Along with Sweden's Simon Says, Cliffhanger kept the original early 70s Genesis spirit alive into the new millennia.

One of the rare bands where "neo prog" and "retro prog" are accurate genre tags, despite the obvious contradiction.

Personal collection
CD: 2001 Musea (France)

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