Russian Circles is a Chicago based band that I’m very fond of. I’ve talked about them on this site several times, and I really enjoy all of their releases. They are the champion of instrumental music (but on the harder side of the spectrum). Instrumental bands are generally broken into 2 camps. The ambient, but driving – Mogwai, Explosions in the Sky, etc, and then the harder stuff – Russian Circles, Trans Am, Champs, etc. Russian Circles is the band that can bridge the gap between ambient to in-your-face, and that is why I really like them. Also, they’re a 3 piece, which is also amazing. Normally instrumental bands have 4-6 musicians, so a power trio is pretty rare in this genre of music.
Mike Sullivan, the guitarist, uses some clever techniques from unconventional tapping (which you would not expect from this style of music) and the use of loopers. If any of you have personally used loopers in a band, you understand that it’s not very easy. Time is everything, and with a looper, if you record the loop a few milliseconds late, eventually it sounds horrible. This is fine if you’re a singer/songwriter playing solo, but when you’re working with a drummer and other musicians, you need to be on the money for the song to work correctly. Again, Russian Circles has the ability to nail this, so lots of respect for them using looper in the way that they do.
I was contacted by Nick last week via Facebook. He knew I was a Russian Circles fan, and he just them play and wanted to know if I wanted some of the photos he took. Well.. hell yes! Nick.. if you’re reading.. thanks much for taking photos!! He got a great one of Mike Sullivan’s pedalboard, and I thought I would do an updated break down. He’s changed his board a few times, so it’s great to get a recent shot: