After a long wait of about four years, VoLt (aka Michael Shipway and Steve Smith) finally released its sixth album “Circuits” in April 2012. One might ask what caused the delay, as their previous albums followed rather swiftly after each other.
Well, the duo basically started work on the structure and sequences of tracks for the new album following their fantastic live-release “HjVi”. However, there had been an uneasy and uncomfortable feel hanging in the air for a while that wasn’t beneficial to the creative process.
Besides that, Michael and Steve both felt each of them needed some time off and space to work on solo projects that had always been forgotten over and over again while working on VoLt music.
Eventually, this “pressure” became too much and so work on the new “Circuits” album was shelved while Steve and Michael turned onto their own solo activities.
During this time, Steve Smith recorded his album “Phoenix Arising” with friends Tylas Cyndrome while Michael materialized his solo-release “Voyage To Venus” album as well as the Lamp album “The Three Towers” with guitarist/friend Garth Jones.
With all of this activity going on, the way back to working together as a team proved to be most difficult and challenging. VoLt had faded away as had the creative collaborative vibe: it looked as though the “Circuits” album would never be completed.
However, by a little help and perseverance of a music fan, Michael and Steve were persuaded to get things moving again.
Working on the new album was different this time as Steve and Michael already had a framework for the tracks that they then needed to complete to their satisfaction.
This also meant that the two musicians were able to swap ideas for completing the tracks over the internet. This working method worked very well for them eventually and enabled the two to complete the album. In fact, this also gave time for Ron Boots to do a super job of mastering the recordings to create the final versions that appear on the factory pressed cd.
Inspired by its concept title “Circuits”, Michael and Steve implemented several electronic sounds and effects to represent the flow of energy through circuits and so lending a unique feel to the album.
Compared to the previous VoLt music, the new outcome opens new horizons: overall, it’s less melodic and has a hi-tech, moodier and vibrant edge, while opening the way to a bit of experiment/abstract touches at the same time. This must be due to the influence of both musicians working on their solo projects respectively, changing the overall VoLt style and sound a little and pulling it into a progressive direction.
However, the tracks itself retain the VoLt style of longer compositions: all three are around 20 minutes in length. From these three, the final piece “Firewire” proves the most satisfying and worthwhile for me.
While sonically different and challenging its fans, the more adventurous-oriented “Circuits” opens doorways into cyberspace and beyond. Hopefully, this will be appreciated by new listeners as well as those familiar with VoLt’s earlier albums.