RUSSIAN CIRCLES: Sled Island 2012

Thursday 14th, June 2012 / 16:33


It figures that Brian Cook, the bassist for instrumental rock trio Russian Circles – and, of course, the former bassist of the almighty Botch and member of These Arms Are Snakes – would know exactly what to elaborate on during an interview without speaking a word.  As his band is touring in Europe when we request an interview, he responds via email.

“I normally just tell folks we’re in a loud, instrumental three-piece art rock group. That seems to get the point across,” Cook explains when asked about the juxtaposition of his Sled Island compatriots and label mates (Belfast’s And So I Watch You From Afar) and Russian Circles’ sound, despite both being lumped into post-rock. “As you’ve pointed out, both us and the Watch dudes… get lumped into this one genre, even though we’re pretty different, stylistically.”

Indeed, Russian Circles occupies a musical area that utilizes quiet/loud dynamics, layered sampling and a heaviness that gets them sometimes lumped into post-metal (think Red Sparowes, Pelican, Grails) although on their most recent outing, Empros, they consciously decided to strip things down.

“I think the previous album, Geneva (released in 2009 by Suicide Squeeze Records) was really a full realization of what we’d wanted to achieve on record and I think the crucial thing for us was to learn to take a step back in terms of production,” explains Cook. “When you look at the discographies of most bands, they follow a pretty similar arc where the production and recording quality gets more and more elaborate and high-end, but it doesn’t necessarily yield better records. In fact, it’s usually quite the opposite. I think it tends to diminish the immediacy of the records.”

Empros does not suffer from said issue. It is more raw and immediate than their earlier works, including their debut, Enter (2006), Station (2008) and the aforementioned Geneva.

“…We eliminated some of the bells and whistles from Geneva and tried to make a more stripped-down record. It was actually a much more difficult process than we anticipated because it involved putting up obstacles: going to a smaller studio, using a less high-tech recording rig, purposely dirtying up the tones and so on,” he writes.

Given the frequency with which Russian Circles releases records, we can expect more where that came from as early as next year.

“We like to stay busy, but we also don’t want to over-saturate people with touring. So we’ll be back at work on a new record early next year. If all goes well, we should have an album out by the end of 2013. We’ll see, though,” concludes Cook.

Catch Russian Circles at Dickens on June 20.

by Sarah Kitteringham