Steve Tilling

A child raised as a psychopath. Could that be the subject of an album that rocks and intrigues in equal measures? The answer’s a sinister ‘yes’, if a new album called CIRCU5 is anything to go by.

CIRCU5 is the project of multi-instrumentalist and vocalist, Steve Tilling. Five years in the making, the album features guest performances from Dave Gregory (XTC, Big Big Train), Phil Spalding (Seal, Mick Jagger), Matt Backer (Julian Lennon, ABC), Alan van Kleef (Rachel Stamp, Ariel X), Johnny Warman (Peter Gabriel, Ringo Starr) and Andy Neve (Steve Hackett, Godley & Creme).

The album’s styles are almost as schizophrenic as its story is psychopathic. Songs like My Degenerate Mind, Stars and Blame It On Me recall Foo Fighters and Queens of the Stone Age at their snarling best. Elements of the cerebral five-part prog epic The Chosen One, evoke King Crimson and Yes, and the dizzying time signatures of Cardiacs.

Meanwhile, songs like, Coming Home, Strings, The Chosen One – Baptism and Ascension draw comparisons to Jethro Tull, Radiohead, Jellyfish, and Nick Drake, respectively. Space-rock poetry conjuring Hawkwind gets a look in with the apocalyptic Days Erased. Even funk grooves reminiscent of Tower of Power feature in The Amazing Monstrous Grady.

“The album mirrors the ups and downs in my life while making it,” says Steve Tilling. “There were dark times, but everything ended positively. I wanted to make an album that’s fun to listen to but has a good story for those who like to dig deeper.”

Clues to the album’s story are dotted throughout the lyrics and packaging, but Steve is happy to give away the essence: “It traces the life of a baby raised until age three in a secret government organisation, which aims to cure psychopathy while harnessing positive psychopathic traits for certain business and military roles. The character discovers the truth as a dysfunctional adult – with catastrophic consequences.”