Circles (feat. Vanic) by machineheart

Track: Circles (feat. Vanic)
Album: In Your Dreams EP
Artist: machineheart
Genre: alternative, electronic, pop
Music Rating: 10/10
Lyrics Rating: 9/10
Overall:
9/10
Sounds Like: Lights, Oh Honey, Oh Wonder
Interesting Fact: Stevie Scott (lead singer of machineheart) is the secret vocal twin of Danni Bouchard of Oh Honey. I’m pretty sure they actually have the same voice. They must’ve sold their souls to a sea-witch in exchange for inhuman vocal beauty. Which one of you is Ursula?
Best thing About this Track: I don’t immediately understand what this song is about. I immediately connect to the sentiment and know what it means to me, but machineheart has allowed their art room to breathe and take on a life of its own. If I come back to this song in 5 minutes or 5 years, I will continue to perceive this track differently as I learn and grow with it. That’s my favorite kind of art. It doesn’t treat you like a child or draw a conclusion for you. This song tells its truth and gives you space to connect with it in your own way. Bravo!
One thing I wish was different: I would’ve liked to see the rhyme scheme on the pre-choruses a little more tightly paralleled.
Website: machineheart

I won’t talk too much about what this song means to me (although I immediately had a striking connection with it), because I think that might taint the ingenuity of the artistry. I’m going to go full-steam-ahead analytical on this one, but just know that my heart beats in rhythm with this song as well.

The writing on this track is other-level-amazing. While each lyrical line can stand alone and shine by themselves as solitary little gems, the true beauty of the lyricism in this piece is only fully grasped when standing back and viewing the song in its entirety from a distance. Dazzling brilliance such as “in the heart of the city where the streets are the veins” and “it’s never in the knowing. It’s in the not giving in” would be impressive enough in isolation to convince me entirely of its resplendence, but the golden threads that weave the web of connections between such jewels paint a far fuller and more beautiful picture than I would ever have dared to hope for.

The lyrics also do a masterful job in painting circular patterns without being condescendingly conspicuous or simpleminded. A part of the genius in the words is the unstated analysis of what a circle is, what a circle entails, details, and what that might lead to. When you’ve gone all the way around the world, are you truly at the same place you started? Or is there something more? Are you truly wandering aimlessly, or does the consistently altering directionality actually anchor you to a central point? Why does life seem to actualize itself in cycles? Is there progress in repetition? Are we a product of decision or destiny? Are they the same thing? Does it matter? The key to this song and the crux of these questions (at least to me) lyrically revolves around the phrase “one more time”. That is what makes the circle, and that is what dictates its meaning.

This song truly feels like an emotionally concrete poem that has been actualized in the third dimension (acoustic waves representing depth here). That makes this song a sphere, which could not be more perfectly apt for this tune as it creates an all-encompassing otherworldly realm around us, challenging our perspective.

Music wants to be circular. We explain the structure of musical relationships in terms of cyclic octaves and the Circle of Fifths. It is most common for a song to begin on its root tone (a very good place to start, notes Maria von Trapp). From there, music takes us on a journey of harmony and dissonance — this is what tells a tale and makes art an experience. But here’s the thing: music always wants to come back home. Music requires resolution. It craves the return. The closer you get to circling back around, the stronger the musical tension and drive to resolve become. Music wants to move in circles. Here’s the funny part: this song does not move in standard musical circular patterns. 😱 This song’s a bit cheeky that way. It neither begins nor ends on its root.

Now that’s not to say that it doesn’t play by the rules or radiate its own circular patterns, because by all means, it certainly does. They are just much more complex than the standard tune. The whole song plays like an auditory illusion, forcing your ear to jump perspectives between keys and intervals with subtleties that you almost don’t even notice upon first listening. The guitar draws your ear to the key of Bm, while the vocals clearly sing in D, causing an interesting perception of standard intervals. At the end of the pre-chorus, there is a vocal jump up by a seventh which lands on and resonates as the fifth of the key. When it later walks down and then jumps down by a fifth, the concurrent borrowed chord makes the interval feel dissonantly unresolved, effectively swapping the standard musical effects of two of the (arguably) most powerful intervals in conflict and resolution. Just in case that mental musical manipulation wasn’t enough, the borrowed chord mentioned here is also resolved by a half step in the overall progression! *mind explodes*

Every other chord in the chorus jumps by an interval of a fifth (which you’ll recall is a relationship with very strong circular ties), and the barred guitar shapes come very close to approximating a circle (as much as one can on a long, skinny neck) inasmuch as hand movement is concerned. Even so, this track does not have traditionally solid jumping off points and resolution wrap-arounds in its melodic influences. Aside from the riffs largely avoiding the root of the key altogether, one of the distinct trademarks of the song is that beautifully borrowed chord which strolls around every third chord change of the chorus.

The ingenuity of that single chord is overwhelming, but I won’t talk too much about what it means to me, because I think that might taint the ingenuity of the artistry.

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Lyrics:
If you’re looking for a diamond
You gotta sift through the gold
If you’re searching for a way out
You gotta take a new road

If you don’t keep the motion moving
It can all feel the same
In the heart of the city
Where the streets are the veins

Oh, when I’m running low
Oh, when the rivers dry
Oh, can you help me go on?

One more time
We’re gonna get up for this
We’re never gonna
Run and hide
If I get tired and say that I wanna
Change my mind
Pull me in a circle, so I can change it
One more time
Pull me in circle

Oh, I know this is heavy
Like a weight on your back
But I think that we can carry
Carry on ‘til the last

And we’re laughing and crying oceans
At the smallest of things
But it feels so much better
When we find the release

Oh, like a broken light
Oh, in the blackest night
Oh, can you flip the switch on?

One more time
We’re gonna get up for this
We’re never gonna
Run and hide
If I get tired and say that I wanna
Change my mind
Pull me in a circle, so I can change it
One more time
Pull me in circle

I don’t know where I’m going
But I know where I’ve been
And it’s never in the knowing,
It’s in the not giving in

And when the earth is slipping, tripping
Right underneath our feet
Remember we’re not finished
We’re not finished

I don’t know where I’m going
But I know where I’ve been
And it’s never in the knowing,
It’s in the not giving in

And when the earth is slipping, tripping
Right underneath our feet
Remember we’re not finished
We’re not finished

One more time
We’re gonna get up for this
We’re never gonna
Run and hide
If I get tired and say that I wanna
Change my mind
Pull me in a circle, so I can change it
One more time
Pull me in circle

One more time
We’re gonna get up for this
We’re never gonna
Run and hide
If I get tired and say that I wanna
Change my mind
Pull me in a circle, so I can change it
One more time
Pull me in circle

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One thought on “Circles (feat. Vanic) by machineheart

  • May 13, 2016 at 3:16 pm
    Permalink

    Mind blown again! I connected with the song immediately, but now, thanks to you, Anie, I understand more WHY, and that deepens the connection!

    This is why you are the best music critic EVER! Thank you! ; – )

    Reply

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