Ramleh: Circular Time

photo by Nikki Sneakers

Ranging from King Crimson-style heaviness to the deepest of space exploration, the return of the most obscure Ramleh goes down a storm.


Circular Time

Label: Crucial Blast
US Release Date: 2015-12-04
UK Release Date: 2015-12-11

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.






A Certain Ratio Return with a Message of Hope on 'ACR Loco'

Inspired by 2019's career-spanning box set, legendary Manchester post-punkers A Certain Ratio return with their first new album in 12 years, ACR Loco.


Oscar Hijuelos' 'Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love' Dances On

Oscar Hijuelos' dizzyingly ambitious foot-tapping family epic, Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love, opened the door for Latinx writers to tell their stories in all their richness.


PM Picks Playlist 2: Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES, SOUNDQ

PopMatters Picks Playlist features the electropop of Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES' stunning dream folk, Polish producer SOUNDQ, the indie pop of Pylon Heights, a timely message from Exit Kid, and Natalie McCool's latest alt-pop banger.


'Lost Girls and Love Hotels' and Finding Comfort in Sadness

William Olsson's Lost Girls and Love Hotels finds optimism in its message that life tears us apart and puts us back together again differently.


Bright Eyes' 'Down in the Weeds' Is a Return to Form and a Statement of Hope

Bright Eyes may not technically be emo, but they are transcendently expressive, beatifically melancholic. Down in the Weeds is just the statement of grounding that we need as a respite from the churning chaos around us.


Audrey Hepburn + Rome = Grace, Class, and Beauty

William Wyler's Roman Holiday crosses the postcard genre with a hardy trope: Old World royalty seeks escape from stuffy, ritual-bound, lives for a fling with the modern world, especially with Americans.


Colombia's Simón Mejía Plugs Into the Natural World on 'Mirla'

Bomba Estéreo founder Simón Mejía electrifies nature for a different kind of jungle music on his debut solo album, Mirla.


The Flaming Lips Reimagine Tom Petty's Life in Oklahoma on 'American Head'

The Flaming Lips' American Head is a trip, a journey to the past that one doesn't want to return to but never wants to forget.


Tim Bowness of No-Man Discusses Thematic Ambition Amongst Social Division

With the release of his seventh solo album, Late Night Laments, Tim Bowness explores global tensions and considers how musicians can best foster mutual understanding in times of social unrest.


Angel Olsen Creates a 'Whole New Mess'

No one would call Angel Olsen's Whole New Mess a pretty album. It's much too stark. But there's something riveting about the way Olsen coos to herself that's soft and comforting.


What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .


Masma Dream World Go Global and Trippy on "Sundown Forest" (premiere)

Dancer, healer, musician Devi Mambouka shares the trippy "Sundown Forest", which takes listeners deep into the subconscious and onto a healing path.


Alright Alright's "Don't Worry" Is an Ode for Unity in Troubling Times (premiere)

Alright Alright's "Don't Worry" is a gentle, prayerful tune that depicts the heart of their upcoming album, Crucible.


'What a Fantastic Death Abyss': David Bowie's 'Outside' at 25

David Bowie's Outside signaled the end of him as a slick pop star and his reintroduction as a ragged-edged arty agitator.


Dream Folk's Wolf & Moon Awaken the Senses with "Eyes Closed" (premiere)

Berlin's Wolf & Moon are an indie folk duo with a dream pop streak. "Eyes Closed" highlights this aspect as the act create a deep sense of atmosphere and mood with the most minimal of tools.


Ranking the Seasons of 'The Wire'

Years after its conclusion, The Wire continues to top best-of-TV lists. With each season's unique story arc, each viewer is likely to have favorites.


Paul Reni's Silent Film 'The Man Who Laughs' Is Serious Cinema

There's so much tragedy present, so many skullduggeries afoot, and so many cruel and vindictive characters in attendance that a sad and heartbreaking ending seems to be an obvious given in Paul Reni's silent film, The Man Who Laughs.


The Grahams Tell Their Daughter "Don't Give Your Heart Away" (premiere)

The Grahams' sweet-sounding "Don't Give Your Heart Away" is rooted in struggle, inspired by the couples' complicated journey leading up to their daughter's birth.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.