In the initial moments of Cheryl B. Engelhardt’s “Circlet of Pisces,” there is neither shape nor sonic continuity for us to cling to, but the fragmented melodic ribbonry is still striking enough to draw us near. There’s nothing to come between the raw emotional matter forming an aural tapestry and the audience for whom it was crafted specifically, and while we haven’t yet discovered what it will become, the desire to get closer to the warm glow of the music soon transforms into a compulsion. Engelhardt is developing something quite ethereal in this performance, but if you want to completely explore the multidimensionality of “Circlet of Pisces,” patience and a good set of speakers are something you need to consider bringing along with you beforehand.
The construction of this single starts and ends with the piano keys, but their placement in the arrangement is one steeped in abstract aesthetics – the best of which lean on postmodern influences, I might add. It’s clear that Engelhardt wasn’t trying to make everything center on one instrument alone, but she also does a terrific job of creating some balance in this mix through the concentrated melodicism of the piano. There are a lot of ways to spellbind in the new age genre, but if you’re looking for something that doesn’t take the simplest of formulas and cosmetically alter the finish with something artificial, “Circlet of Pisces” might be a good track to start with in the new releases category this summer.
Even though they’re shrouded in a melodic mist of an exceptionally captivating nature, the vocals are imperative to the communication of passion in this song, if not the exclusive catalyst for catharsis. “Circlet of Pisces” doesn’t depend on a linguistic narrative for structure, but instead just the presence of a good pair of pipes in the backdrop, accentuating the ambient drone of the harmonies ascending from the silence and slowly overwhelming everything they touch in this track. Engelhardt thought a lot about the kind of scene she was staging with her instruments in this single, and by being more meticulous than the status quo would ever ask for her to be, she’s quite literally able to circumvent some of the biggest pitfalls her contemporaries fall in when making similarly ambitious content on their own.
I’m not normally the biggest new age buff out there, but I don’t think you have to be in order to get something out of Cheryl B. Engelhardt’s music, and “Circlet of Pisces” confirms that. This is an ambient work that welcomes newcomers in with open arms, defying the overly intellectual optics a lot of us have come to associate with the more sophisticated side of independent music, and if there’s only one song of its kind you can listen to before the season has come to an end, this would be what I would recommend above the competition. Artistry like this can’t be faked into existence, nor can the emotion Engelhardt affords every second of audio in “Circlet of Pisces.”