PURSON — The Circle and the Blue Door

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PURSON - The Circle and the Blue Door cover
4.83 | 6 ratings | 2 reviews
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Album · 2013

Filed under Heavy Psych


1. Wake Up Sleepy Head (2:06)
2. The Contract (4:11)
3. Spiderwood Farm (5:09)
4. Sailor's Wife's Lament (3:59)
5. Leaning on a Bear (3:27)
6. Tempest and the Tide (5:06)
7. Mavericks and Mystics (3:48)
8. Well Spoiled Machine (5:09)
9. Sapphire Ward (5:02)
10. Rocking Horse (4:25)
11. Tragic Catastrophe (5:21)

Total Time 47:43

Japanese bonus track:

12. Let Bloom (2:59)


- Rosalie Cunningham / Vocals, Guitars, Organ, Mellotron, Wurlitzer, Percussion
- Ed Turner / Bass, Guitars
- Raphael Mura / Drums
- William Cunningham / Saxophone

About this release

Released by Rise Above Records, April 29th, 2013.

US release by Metal Blade Records.

Japanese release by Trooper Entertainment. One bonus track.

Thanks to adg211288 for the addition


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Purson is one of those bands which is essentially the vehicle for the creative vision of a particular purson - er, I mean person. That purson - sorry, person - is singer-guitarist Rosalie Cunningham, the band's only constant member, and she's set her aesthetic sights firmly on the heavy prog-psych sound of the early 1970s.

The Circle and the Blue Door is an occult-tinged visit to a time when heavy metal, psychedelic rock, and prog hadn't quite diverged into three entirely distinct musical streams yet - an era where it made absolute sense for a label like Vertigo to have acts as diverse as Catapila, Affinity, and Black Sabbath on it and describe them all as "progressive rock".

As time passed the meaning of that term evolved, moved on, and was redefined, as the prog scene focused more on technical wizardry and compositional complexity and the proto-metal scene got shaken up by acts like Budgie or Judas Priest injecting more speed and aggression into the style. Cunningham, however, clearly knows her musical history and understands that there was a time when a heavy psych album could skip its way through early proto-prog/proto-metal territory as the whim took it.

We've seen this before, of course - Blood Ceremony base their entire schtick on it - but this debut album delivers this style in masterful fashion. There's an ugly tendency, especially in prog or metal circles, to question the credentials of frontwomen and to attribute most of the musical and compositional proficiency of a band to male band members, but it's absolutely clear from her guitar's prominence and from her lead role in the songwriting that Cunningham isn't just there for aesthetic reasons.

No, this is clearly music she believes in passionately, and by the time you're done listening you'll be a believer too. With those drum rolls, fuzzy guitar, and production touches, you might even believe that Purson were right there in 1971 opening for Jethro Tull or Black Widow.
The Circle and the Blue Door (2013) is the debut full-length album by UK heavy psych act Purson. Purson was formed by vocalist/guitarist Rosalie Cunningham after the breakup of her previous outfit Ipso Facto. The band line-up seems to have changed a lot in between the recording and release of The Circle and the Blue Door, with both a band and recording line-up credited. Rosalie Cunningham herself is the only constant member.

The music on The Circle and the Blue Door is a progressive influenced form of heavy psych (psychedelic hard rock) with quite the retro aesthetic. It wouldn't be completely wrong to group the band with the current wave of so called witch rock bands (a term I don't particularly support), that includes the more doom metal orientated acts like Purson's (now former, as Purson severed ties with Rise Above Records after just this one album) label-mates Blood Ceremony. Purson themselves are much more on the psychedelic side of this trend though and don't have metal elements in their music, though I can certainly see the band fitting with and appealing to fans of the same crowd. The closest I think they've come to metal was the song Wool which appeared on their prior EP Rocking Horse (2012) but that song wasn't carried over to The Circle and the Blue Door. The EP title track and Spiderwood Farm (a really addictive track this one, but that's true of the whole release) in an extended version were though. So even though The Circle and the Blue Door isn't a metal release in any way it certainly isn't wrong to consider Purson to be an honorary member of the metal scene. This is the sort of music that sounds older than it is, so had it been released in the time it sounds like it should have been from it would have probably been considered proto-metal years down the track.

Though there is also a reasonable amount of lighter music to be found on the album Purson can still certainly rock out with the best of them. This is evident in tracks like Spiderwood Farm, Leaning On A Bear and Well Spoiled Machine among others. There's no quality difference between the heavier and lighter music on the album though, with songs like Sailor's Wife's Lament also standing out. The two dynamics really play off well against each other making The Circle and the Blue Door a very engaging listen. It's a great album even from the first spin and just seems to keep on giving and getting better and better even as familiarity sets in. Rosalie Cunningham is obviously the star of this show being not only frontwoman but also chief composer. The music is great throughout and her vocals are easily the icing on the cake that makes The Circle and the Blue Door great for many repeat spins and counting. I did single out a few songs already as examples of how the music sounds but to pick any as a highlight over another would be doing an injustice as well as giving an accolade. I will say that my personal favourite is Spiderwood Farm though but you can pick most of the album's eleven tracks and have a song that deserves to be called the best. I guess the only one that can't is Wake Up Sleepy Head but that one is more of an intro in any case.

The Circle and the Blue Door is without a doubt a very high quality debut from Purson. It's addictive well composed music full of charm and if it is anything to go by this young British outfit have a great career ahead of them. I'm sure it'll find not only an appeal from the psych/prog rock crowd but also with other metalheads like me. I came to this album late, in 2014, but if I had discovered this earlier I would definitely have put it right up there with the very best of 2013. 5 Stars.


(Originally written for Heavy Metal Haven: http://metaltube.freeforums.org/purson-the-circle-and-the-blue-door-t3719.html)

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