Dagobert Böhm,
Circle Around
(Ozella, 1999)

Circle Around by Dagobert Böhm is an amazing CD. The music drifts to you gently, wrapping itself around you and pulling you in.

Needless to say the music is good. Böhm plays the acoustic guitar and is joined by Harish Powar (classical guitar on "Jorien") and Manfred Zepf (fretless bass on "From up Above"). The music is what makes the pieces, or etudes, work.

The first piece is "Open Air," which floats lightly, and there is a feel that it drifts across open hills to get to the listener. Then comes "Opus 71" and it has more of a classical feel to it, with themes and patterns repeated and shifted slightly.

"Jorien" has the feel of an ode honouring a person or place, with the notes soaring, sweeping upwards time and time again, each time pulling the listener a little bit higher. "Circle Around" lets the listener gently rest as the music gentle shifts this way and then that, slowly rocking back and forth.

"Bigfoot" changes the mood a bit, lurking near the edge of a forest just out of sight, growing bolder as the tune progresses. There is a sense of weight to "Ice on Tired Trees," but no sense of season. It could be anything, anytime. It is a beautiful piece, I just don't quite get a sense of winter.

"Solo" paints a strong image of a musician focused on his music, of a guitarist playing his guitar and riding the sound.

The sound returns to the more classical feel in "Cadenza (excerpt from Bird Suite)." In "From Up Above" the music carries the listener high up, gently soaring above the clouds and every now and then, you can catch glimpses of green and blue. The colours of the rainbow spread out on the ground below you. "Boardwalk" is a walking song, capturing the feel of a nice easy stroll in a place you love.

"Opus 59" is more folk in feel than classical at first, but even so there is a theme if you listen closely for it.

The CD ends off with two bonus tracks. The first is "Fast Spacer," which starts off as a quick-tempo little piece and then broadening as it goes. Then comes "Dreaming Strings," a dreamlike piece that seems to catch bits and pieces of all the songs that went before it. And like a dream it is hard to put a finger on it, but it is beautiful.

Circle Around is wonderful CD. And while the music does not always take you places, it always comes to you, drifting gently and whispering of stars.

[ by Paul de Bruijn ]