Zirkus create immersive soundscapes that enchant and unnerve in equal measure – entering the ears and electrifying our attention. Fancy a hot jolt of hauntronica music that you can’t help but be captivated by? Now they have unleashed a brand-new EP (EP2) for September 2019, recorded live over the summer … consisting of two resonant, resounding tracks steeped with hauntological links, layers of sound and level upon level of intensity. It is available now via Bandcamp. 


 All songs have been written and performed by ABB and Pierre: the mysterious pair who make up Zirkus (read the earlier HAUNT interview with them here). The EP was recorded, mixed and mastered by Bon Holloway and marks a deep-plunging, even darker evolution in the duo’s sound, building on the bristling waves of their 2014 debut… to an enchanting effect. EP2 embodies a kind of lingering lesson, summoning up sounds of the times and increasing the concentration to make a truly captivating recoding.

Turning on EP2 is like taking a step into an eerie and yet enchanting ‘other world’ – a place of pushed-back memories, parts of conversations, surges of emotion, the bits we bury. 'Face Sun Shadow Face' is the first track – a bewitching blend of haunted vocal loops, seething synth-like surges and a sound seething between purring and pulse-like. Imagine a haunted room complete with a sewing machine revolving on its own. This is the type of darkness ‘Face Sun Shadow Face’ draws up, a track capable of turning disparate images in the mind over and over. Once tuned in, it feels impossible not to listen, as the piece ebbs and flows in its intensity, accumulating intrigue all the time. This is perhaps no wonder, given that it was composed for the Not Quite Light Festival and performed during an evening of 'Hauntology' at The White Hotel in Salford on the 28 March 2019.

Listening onwards, the track 'Doll's Hands, Massive Head' seems steeped in an almost agitated intensity from the onset, bringing to mind meshing and melding machinery – an evocative echo of our  hyper-industrial age, its progress and problems. This mechanistic build then creatively ebbs into an electronic pulse – coming to power the track with an incessant rhythm: in a move likely to hook and hold any listener. A notable point about the work of Zirkus is that although the use of loops and recordings is a key characteristic, it avoids feeling repetitive – instead the music seeming to swell and snake across the senses as it builds, each new layer unlocking a new sensation or memory. ‘Doll's Hands, Massive Head’ is a track tapping into the subconscious and slicing the listening experience open to new perspectives. It is intense and wide-spanning yet also measured and sensitive: bringing about a balance that few electronic artists manage to strike. Instead, what is struck, are the senses.

ZirkusWhilst ‘Face Sun Shadow Face' lasts just over 22 minutes and ‘Doll's Hands, Massive Head’ for nearly 15, never do the tracks appear tired… instead bristling with a balance of energy inviting the listener back again and again. Machines meet the dark mindscape.

According to Zirkus:

"When we record Zirkus music we do it live and improvise as we go. The sessions for EP2 left us feeling troubled - we didn't know we were capable of such darkness. During recording we repeatedly had leave the studio to step out into the daylight in the hope of banishing that which seemed to be haunting us. Our faces were then in the sun, but it seems our minds are down there in shadows. EP2 is where we really tried to exorcise our ghosts, but ultimately the endeavour was futile. Neither of us can appease these shadowy presences that keep appearing by returning."

And that is not all from Zirkus. They are self-described as a ‘shadowy offshoot’ of the hauntronica-influenced Flange Circus – and it is Flange Circus who will be providing a soundscape for RURAL EERIE: Exploring the Strange Countryside through Sounds and Words at The Peer Hat (find out more about this mysterious music venue here) on Saturday 19 October, as part of The Gothic Manchester Festival 2019.

In addition, Zirkus will also be appearing at Manchester’s Foundations Festival on the evening of Saturday 2 November, tickets are available here.

By Emily Oldfield