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Dexter Jones' Circus Orchestra : Side by Side

It's ironic that Sweden's Dexter Jones' Circus Orchestra should choose to sign with the fine Fuzzorama records label, since by all indications the 'Circus' boys have left their fuzzboxes in a storage unit on the outskirts of Umea. Rather than fall back on fuzzboxes and distortion, the guitarists in Dexter Jones' Circus Orchestra have instead chosen a clean sound, leaving the emphasis on songwriting, nuance, and dynamics. A near-as-dammit unprecedented step here in the stoner/doom underground, but as it turns out a step yielding great musical rewards.

If you're going to drop the beloved fuzz, then you'd best be bringing something else to the table, and Dexter Jones' Circus Orchestra brings it in spades. What is this mystery commodity? Maturity. Yep, maturity. I'm not talking about age, which as we all know is an uncertain indicator at best. The 'Orchestra is not for those who rely on adrenaline and whiplash as indicators of musical desirability, not that there's anything particularly wrong with that. There's no denying it, this is a group of thoughtful musicians, children of the ever-more-important Mammoth Volume, modern wizards of heavy Swedish prog, whose influence is slowly but surely spreading, at least in their native country. The 'Circus' dudes are also cognizant of modern practitioners of contemporary underground songwriting on the other side of the planet, namely desert chopsters such as Orquestra del Desierto, QOTSA and the under heard Masters of Reality, the latter of whom may well eclipse their more well-known friends in songwriting brilliance.

All of these groups know that there's heavy gold to be found in the (relatively) recent musical past. Heavy groups with progressive leanings from the early and mid 70s, such as prime period Blue Oyster Cult, Man, and Jethro Tull provide useful templates. Dexter Jones' Circus Orchestra has learned their lessons from these masters past and present, and have forged their own identity, one that has learned the value of diverse instruments in creating a palette rich in shading, dynamics, tempo shifts, and an intelligent diversity that values playing ability without pretension and bombast. Their songs are not particularly heavy, but are rich in instrumental layering and intertwining, emphasizing melody and mixing blues, folk, and prog with a warm, natural 70s tonal balance.

Is it successful? Yes. Is it for everyone? No, but if you're ready to shed your screamcore, muscle car fuzz, or 'Sabbathy doom, at least for half an hour, Dexter Jones' Circus Orchestra has an alternative for you. The rewards are many.

Reviewer's rating: Unrated


Tracklist :
1. Lock the Cage
2. Nyby
3. We Don't Care
4. Conceptual Ways
5. Sensation
6. Feel the Cold
7. In Front of You All
8. In the Lion's Pit
9. Expectations
10. Side by Side

Duration : Approx. 37 minutes

Visit the Dexter Jones' Circus Orchestra bandpage.

Reviewed on ??-??-???? by Kevin McHugh
A Dream Of Poe - The Wraith Uncrowned
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