Circa by Flare

There were such crisp, blue skies as I made my way to work this morning. On the bus, as I sat down beside her, an older lady asked, “Why do you have an umbrella with you?” And it was true; I did have an umbrella with me. I carry such things as other men do contraceptives, so I replied as earnestly as I could: “In case I get lucky.”

Therein lies the heart of Flare: the safe and sound knowledge that, given time, the worst will always happen. That every situation is pre-destined towards the least pleasing conclusion. This philosophy has been empirically tested and correlated through lessons learned. As Mr Beghtol himself sings: “You know how it’s going to end.”

There is a Hegelian sense of historical inevitability at work that sets up each song like one of Mr Allen’s joke writ small. All relationships are unhealthy and dysfunctional and then they have the gall to break up with you. A job is an excruciating and tedious thing to uphold and on top of that you will be fired. The creation of fine art requires suffering and horrendous effort and, in the end, you still can’t sell it. I can’t remember Mr Allen’s jest with any real clarity, but Mr Beghtol’s songs taken as a canon suggest one thing – life is just one Catskills resort dinner menu.

Like the tragedies that are heaped upon us, then one upon another, from birth, the turnarounds and slow, desperate progressions of Mr Beghtol gradually become more and more intense. One does not simply pass from verse into chorus; rather, further layers of song are forced on top until beginning is subsumed by middle which is subsumed by end which is subsumed by everlasting regret.

Not that such creates a fuzzy mess or impenetratable wall o’sound. If Cocteau Twins’ Treasure, say, is the fevered drunken dream of sorrows drowned by some cusp-teetering depressive, Circa is realising, in hangover-less sobriety, that the desperation of the night before was justified. Flare pull Mr Guthrie, R’s instrumentation into focus, revealing that it was made from marxophones, contrabasses and ukes all along. Each instrument is prinked and preened so thoroughly that amidst the grandeur each can be heard distinctly; the catalogue of pains (yearning, burning, churning, spurning etc.) is played through with the cool collegiate clarity of a Simon & Garfunkel record (Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme won’t give me thyme, and thyme makes lovers feel…).

There is depression throughout, but no mania (excepting perhaps the cover of Lovesick, the harrowment of which is more the fault of Ms Germano than Mr Beghtol). If each protagonist culls themselves, and we pray that they will, it is the result of many slow calculations made more definite as each minute catastrophe befalls them. It is rationale that has brought them to the conclusion that non-existence outstrips the misfortune that is their lot. Because, unlike myself returning home with an open umbrella, they never get lucky.

Stephen O’Hagan | Autumn 2005