Circles’ is the recently released sophomore LP of Englishman based in the Netherlands, Pete Barnes, under his ambient post rock project Thistle Sifter. As a follow up to 2022’s ‘A Spectral Moon’ full length debut, ‘Circles’ has a much lighter vibe, delving less into the solidity of sound and more into its ethereal nature. ‘Circles’, when compared, is a more buoyant albeit somber sounding expression to an outsider of Barnes’ story in the making of these LPs. The sophomore album was created during a lengthy period of recovery after the artist suffered a serious cycling crash in November 2020 that left Barnes reeling with post concussion syndrome symptoms, with a tugging to return to friends and family in England while being mostly isolated abroad during his recovery, all while COVID-19 was raging and Brexit was at the forefront in his home country. Much of the album revolves around the circles the instrumentalist felt himself moving in, with such seclusion and slow injury recovery.

Morning Has Broken’ is a favorite for me off the LP, it has a foggy beginning that breaks away to a post rock sunrise, filled with depth and layers of instrumentals. It’s warm yet forlorn and holds the promise of possibilities in its new day. ‘Old Man’s Beard’ is hypnotic in its repetitive notes accented with airy echoes, and you’ll feel yourself drawn to play it more than once back to back. Four minutes feel like they’ve disappeared too soon and you’re suddenly losing yourself in them again. ‘No Sense of Place’ is another highlight of ‘Circles’ and slowly and shyly expresses a sober angst, sonically poetic in nature. ‘In Abundance’ hails from the same sea of heavy fuzz and noise mixed with gentle instrumentation as Thistle Sifter’s intriguing debut ‘A Spectral Moon’. The track, as well as ‘Circles’ in its entirety, is for fans of ambient beauty, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, and songs that would suit the soundtrack of your life. According to the Thistle Sifter’s website: 5% of all sales of the album will be donated to brain recovery support charity, GETaHEAD, which makes your listening all the bit sweeter. Plus it’s not every day you listen to a glockenspiel either. You’ll be able to check out Thistle Sifter’s ambient givings live this spring, with multiple dates in Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium; the one closest to fruition being April 17th’s gig at the Vinyl Club in Speyer, Germany.

Bliss out to Barnes’ tunes while immersing yourself in the visuals made by artists Nici Metselaar, Thomas van Gaalen and Jop van der Kam.

Sarah Medeiros