Nearly two decades have come and gone since Ramleh last released a rock-style record, thus making it possible for many to scratch their heads wonder what exactly a Ramleh is. Based in Croydon, England the group took its name after a major battle in the Crusades, made some wicked and wild musical utterances in the early 1980s as part of a sub-genre of industrial music, continued an on-and-off again pattern, for much of the 1980s, then into the following decade and then, round about 1997 or so, slipped into silence until just a few years back when the beast awakened and started issuing music again in a vast expanse of obscurity.
Reminiscent of latter-day acts such as the mighty the Psychic Paramount, Om, the wilder, more aggressive moments of King Crimson back in ’72, ’73 and ’74, and some of the heavier, spacier moments of Hawkwind, much of the music conveyed to the massless here is what the untrained would call amorphous: heavy slabs of powerful noise rendered unto us with a ferocity and darkness that will clutch your mortal soul, plunge into all things void of light, and refuse to send it back to the surface. And you’ll like it. There’s plenty of such goodness stretched across two discs (if you’re into the physical thing) or a whole lot of time (if you’re a space traveler unbound by the physical).
For all that stuff that seems to know no bounds, including the epics “American Womanhood”, “Flamen Dialis” and “Never Returner” (three absolute smashers by the way) there are more concise, song-ish numbers, including “The Tower” with its cracking drums, aestheticizing bass lines and vocals that come into the speakers like a rusty knife fight next door and “The Ascent”, which could easily find a home one some late-night college radio show. There are spacey as get out epics, too, whether the beautifully glacial drone of “Entropy”, the African-ish “Renaissance Warfare”, or the low budget movie score material heard on “Weird Tyranny”.
For some that’ll probably be too much: too much being thrusted this way and that and maybe once or twice being sent in those directions without predictable transitions but if you’re expecting the kind of cohesion you’d find, say, on one of the better Pink Floyd albums, you’d probably best stick to Pink Floyd. This here is the underground, child, and we have little time for such nonsense. This is about upsetting the cart more than a little and taking the listener to places he or she never expected to go in this terrifying lifetime.
Does buying into this record mean buying into some of the back catalog? No doubt it will and 1987’s space torture masterpiece Hole In The Heart is a good place to start, as is 1995’s Be Careful What You Wish For (maybe the band’s best before this moment in time). But with or without those other records, Circular Time stands to be a striking and long-lasting bunch of music from a collective that you ignore at your peril.
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