Jardin de la Croix – Circadia


Sprightly and precise, playful and inviting…

Out on 9 December 2016 through Aloud Music Ltd

Review by Paul H Birch

A “mix of math/post-rock and progressive metal” apparently. For those of us hesitant to avoid sounding stupid, or at best naïve, when such terminologies are espoused it would appear they’re just the new marketing slang for a modern progressive audio medium.

Four albums into a ten year career, Ander Carballo (guitar and synthesiser), Israel Arias (drums), Nacho Hernández (bass) and Pablo Rodríguez (Guitar) the young gentlemen that constitute the Spanish collective that is Jardin de la Croix seem to be doing alright for themselves having upgraded to major Barcelonian record company Aloud Music Ltd for this their latest instrumental album, Circadia.

Without lyrics to advise us however, we are forced to cast personal interpretations of the themes being expressed musically purely from their song titles. Thus ‘Seven Years To Hatch An Invasion’ could be about lazy extra-terrestrial aliens as felt in its long stirring melody, or a teenage coming of age reference when we consider the somersaulting guitar riff that begins to attack the work. Overall the impression is of Ozric Tentacles the way the keyboards bubble together in fusion while classical piano touches point towards Italy’s PFM. Either way, it’s quite long while pleasantly keeping your attention.

By contrast ‘Reversion’ affords us reminiscences of long walks through tall grass on fine summer days as guitar arpeggios saunter along, the bass locking in with a slight jazz feel ensuing. There’s then a driven rush that has them getting heavier without speeding up, and calling to mind the usual suspects of Yes/Genesis in the rhythm section. Moving back and forth in a frisky happy go lucky manner between these themes the lead guitar teases with a quizzical refrain. ‘Intermareals’ is similar with keyboards giddily to the fore spinning over held rhythms and piano in the background that in some respects recalls Peguin Café Society,  proving moody and minimalistic at various points.

Guitar arpeggio inversions are intercut by brash bright chords in the opening to ‘Green Architect’ developing into a fair-paced skipping melody that touches base with folk, pop and prog. Modern with a pulsating rhythm underneath, it is a feel good tune, features another brief jazzier section and concludes with mega-hard slash and burn approach. What’s noticeable is the point where keyboards affect chorus harmonies and you sense that the use of real vocalists could prove appropriate, adding a further aural dimension, as the band develops further.

‘Trail From Alaska’ starts prettily as bright shiny pop then a grunting bass guitar leads us into an old school prog rock ride; guitars calling in the chord changes while drums deliver the punctuation. At one point it sounds like Rush playing Genesis’ ‘Watcher of the Skies’ before reverting to some colourful keyboard flavours in the outro section.

A piano leads us into ‘Flowers And Carrion’ with guitar effects in the background, building progressively but retaining a minimalist hold. The rest of the band then busk busily in support as a guitar motif takes over, with notes of regret and challenging questions felt before the bass grooves with a slight jazz fusion feel and – while allowing space to breath –  the music floats between solid pop and a heavier chilled prog vibe. Continuing seamlessly a fuzzy melody presides over some dramatic stop-starts before looping guitar and keyboards swoop in on an ascending chord sequence as it heads towards the record’s climax.

There is a definite compositional style to the tracks featured on Circadia, developing through guitar chord inversions and modal patterns that the band then enhance and impress upon in various forms. Between two to four minutes predictably the music will become heavier and sometimes the tempo will build, thereafter there will be variations around the main theme with the occasional musical shift. Does this mean it becomes too repetitive or bland? No, although you’re definitely aware it’s the same four musicians playing. It is music that could easily be interpreted through the medium of modern dance, or played as cinematic accompaniment, but most of all it is for the simple pleasure of listening music that is sprightly and precise, with warm-flavoured melodies that are playful and inviting without being overbearing.

jardin-de-la-croix-circadia7.5 out of 10

Track list:

  1. Seventeen Years To Hatch An Invasion
  2. Reversion
  3. Intermareals
  4. Green Architect
  5. Trail From Alaska
  6. Flowers And Carrion