NME  ('98, by April Long)

A more depressing record is difficult to imagine. Hüsker Dü's 'Candy Apple Grey'? 'Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space' with a 20-minute 'Broken Heart' reprise? 'The Infinite Circle' would flatten them with a resounding thud.
Sophia mastermind Robin Proper-Sheppard certainly has reasons to be tearful. The career of The God Machine, his first band, was summarily cut short by the death of bassist Jimmy Fernandez in 1994. Since then, he's been struggling to re-spark the faith, disentangle the legacy from the loss and move on.
'The Infinite Circle' marks a progression, if not an alteration, from the sparse, despairing course of his 1996 solo effort, 'Fixed Water'. His dolorous emoting, like Smog feeling suicidal or Sparklehorse's Mark Linkous under heavy sedation, is now couched in the surge and twist of sumptuously melancholic strings.
From the first note, Proper-Sheppard tries to breathe under a lead blanket - gasping through the unremittingly bleak 'Woman' ("Whore... is it easy to forget that you've destroyed me?"), straining against the fearsome weight of 'Bastards' ("I pray I'm not alone when I die"). There are moments, like the relatively up-tempo 'Every Day' and the almost jangly 'Sometimes', when the centrifugal force seems to quicken, but the sentiment remains the same.
Not a cheerful album, then. But one that finds solace in its own inconsolability. 'The Infinite Circle' tries again and again to drag itself out of a hole before sliding back in, asking the same questions and solving nothing - yet amid all its existential angst, beauty prevails. Possibly the most melodic, delicate and devastating cries for help you're ever likely to hear. 7/10

Uptomusic (by Dave Peeters)
You would be well advised not to give an out of control hypochondriac any razor blades, guns, rope or Sophia albums. After his group The God Machine followed bassist Jimmy Fernandez to a better place, Robin Proper-Sheppard obviously has been having trouble with life, or life has been having trouble with him. 'Directionless', the opening track on his second CD, immediately seizes listeners by the throat, softly but without mercy and drags them into a dark pool of unbearable grief and sorrow. Death and love are recurring themes in life, and the singer seems to hover between fear and hope, and ultimately slips away into bitter resignation. Without a trace of pity, the introspective songs confront the listener with harsh reality until the powerful  'The River Song' manages to put a smile on one’s face, if only for a moment... 'The Infinite Circle' is an incredibly beautiful and intimate record that, when combined with a Valium, most certainly does the trick.

Het Nieuwsblad (16/10/1998, by BVD)
Fun things, you enjoy them. Sad things, that’s what you write songs about. A theory that certainly applies to Robin Proper-Sheppard, the Sophia front man. His group’s debut CD Fixed Water was an exercise in grief, and the follow up release ’The Infinite Circle’ is even more so. It starts off promising in the first track, Directionless, where the American artist declares that he has lost the compass for navigating his way through life. During the nomadic journey through his soul, he reflects that women are a bad lot (Woman), and men are even worse (Bastards), and where to go from here? In the meantime, imagine a cello, a violin, shuffling drums and a quiet guitar and you get a wondrous downer of a record that starts sounding even better when the leaves change and fall from the trees. Highlights include the previously mentioned Woman and Bastards, in which Proper-Sheppard surpasses Tindersticks, Palace and Mark Eitzel. And the striking, downright bombastic 'The River Song', infused with the spirit of The God Machine, Sheppard’s previous band. Records like this one remind you how pop music is more than entertainment. Take advantage of it. (by Jérémy & Bernard Dagnies)
Fin 96, le leader du défunt et regretté God Machine, Robin Proper Sheppard commettait un premier elpee, " Fixed water ". Pas tout à fait en solitaire, puisqu’il avait bénéficié du concours de quelques collaborateurs ; et notamment des musiciens d’Elevate, de Ligament et d’Oil Seed Rape. Question sans doute d’exorciser la douleur éprouvée par la mort de son ami et compère, Jimmy Fernandez… Un album trop peu apprécié à sa juste valeur, nonobstant des vertus mélancoliques qui avaient tant plu aux aficionados de Smog, Palace, Sparklehorse, Mark Kozelek, Mazzy Star et consorts. Avec " The infinite circle ", Robin semble être parvenu à faire le deuil de son passé. Ce qui ne veut pas dire que ses compositions soient moins profondes, mélancoliques ou élaborées. D’ailleurs, sur ce opus, il est entouré d’une bonne dizaine de musiciens, parmi lesquels on retrouve un violoncelliste, un violoniste et des cuivres. Mais surtout, elles ne sont plus atteintes par cette sorte de sinistrose ambiante, qui recouvraient les compositions d’une véritable chape de plomb. D’ailleurs, ici, certaines d’entre elles sembles aussi aventureuses que celles d’Ed Kuepper, alors que d’autres marchent sur les traces de Red House Painters lorsqu’elles ne revisitent pas le psychédélisme d’Echo &The Bunnymen circa " Heaven up here ", comme sur les remarquables " Every day " ou " The river song ". Un must !