1970 was a time for heady experimentation in popular music, but very few records - and even fewer on major labels - come close to matching the stylistic ground covered by William S. Fischer's album Circles.
African-American composer/arranger/keyboardist/saxophonist Fischer grew up woodshedding with the likes of Ray Charles, Fats Domino, Muddy Waters, and Percy Mayfield...and then took a sudden left turn by studying electronic music in Vienna during the mid-'60s. There, he met Joe Zawinul, and ended up penning five of the six tunes on Zawinul's groundbreaking 1968 album, The Rise and Fall of the Third Stream.
Fischer went on to arrange for Herbie Mann, who signed him to his Embryo imprint for Atlantic Records; Circles was Fischer's one and only release for the label, and he didn't waste the opportunity. An utterly mind-blowing mix of Sly Stone funk, heavy Hendrix-y metal, Southern soul, jazz fusion, and Stockhausen-esque explorations on the Moog synthesizer, Circles enlisted the same band (bassist Ron Carter, guitarists Eric Weissberg and Hugh McCracken) that Fischer had worked with while acting as Musical Director on Eugene McDaniels' underground classic, Outlaw, complemented by drummer Billy Cobham and a five-piece cello section.
With a lineup like that, it's little wonder that the artistic reach of Circles is breathtaking, but it somehow manages to cohere according to its own internal, crazy logic; it remains one of the most adventuresome and collectible releases of its day. For this, its first-ever vinyl reissue, Real Gone Music has pressed 2,000 copies on "black ice" vinyl, preserved the original "circle" cut-out stencil cover, and added liner notes by Peter Relic that feature quotes from Fischer himself. For the intrepid listener!
William S. Fischer is best known for working in the shadow of big names in jazz and R&B like Roberta Flack, Herbie Mann and Bette Midler. Real heads know that the multi-talented artist made a few records of his own in the 70s and that each one has some rare delights cut into the grooves. His 1970 debut, recorded with heavy hitters like drummer Billy Cobham and bassist Ron Carter and five cellists for Manns Embryo label and newly reissued by Real Gone, sticks to a New Age funk vibe with songs like Circle and Chains speaking to spiritual transcendence and personal freedom. But the truly fascinating moments on Circles are the two tracks where Fischer cuts loose on a Moog synthesizer for extended instrumental interludes that are far gone and out. Im not sure how easily they mesh with the watertight beats and hip-swiveling rhythms on the rest of the LP but I am so happy they are there to shock me out of my sweaty dance party glow.
- Limited Edition - 2000 Copies
- "Black Ice" Colored Vinyl
- First-Ever Vinyl Reissue
- Original "Circle" Die-Cut Cover
- New Liner Notes by Peter Relic
|William S. Fischer||Moog synthesizer|
|Billy Cobham||drums, percussion|
- Patience Is Virtue
- There's A Light That Shines
- Green Forever