Circe is the brain child of Orri Páll Dýrason and Georg Holm; you may or may not recognise them as being two thirds of Icelandic rock band Sigur Rós. Despite this, Circe isn’t exactly a new Sigur Rós album. Instead, it’s the soundtrack for an upcoming documentary called The Show of Shows. It still retains elements of Sigur Rós’ music, rather than drawing on the history of Vaudeville and circuses to fit the documentary’s theme, but that doesn’t mean you should get excited about it just yet.
Circe follows a very rigid theme. So rigid, in fact, that the songs all continue on from each other, making it play out as if it were one long track rather than a collection of fourteen. It moves between more foreboding atmospheric tracks and angelic choir-laden ones, occasionally bringing in some rock flair for To Boris With Love and Wirewalker. There’s a cloudy aspect to it, something unsettling that blatantly states its subject matter isn’t exactly happy-go-lucky.
It definitely sounds like something made for a documentary. At the same time, it’s definitely not made to be a standalone piece of music. With so many tracks featuring nothing but guitar and heavenly choirs, it’s impossible to avoid the reality that songs were almost entirely repeated, rather than just having one song being reused in every fitting moment in the eventual documentary. They’re long-winded, made as background noise rather than something to grab your attention. The previously mentioned To Boris With Love and Wirewalker are the only ones with real legs to stand on, and lean closest to the Sigur Rós style, but even they almost sound out of place here.
Which makes Circe a tough case to talk about. For its intended purpose, the backing track to a documentary, it’ll surely serve its purpose well. As a stand-alone piece of music, it could serve as background music to other tasks, but not something to truly focus your attention on unless these cloudy, brooding instrumentals are something that really capture your interest. Circe is just a little too bland and repetitive to steal the spotlight.
* Image courtesy of National Fairground Archive. Copyright University of Sheffield