Circles Around The Sun explore new horizons on the band’s upcoming double album, Let It Wander. It’s the first new music from the quartet since their acclaimed 2015 debut, Interludes For The Dead. Guitarist Neal Casal, keyboardist Adam MacDougall his bandmate in the Chris Robinson Brotherhood, bassist Dan Horne and drummer Mark Levy recorded seven instrumentals for Let It Wander earlier this year at Castaway 7 Studios in California.Let It Wander is the second album from Circles Around the Sun, but the quartet agrees that in many ways it feels more like their first.
By now, the band’s unconventional origin story is well known. Three years ago, guitarist Neal Casal formed the band to record some Grateful Dead-influenced instrumentals to be played during the set breaks at the Dead’s Fare Thee Well concerts.
Instead, there was an album, Interludes for the Dead, followed by several acclaimed live performances. The response was so positive, and the band was having so much fun making music together, that they agreed to keep it going, MacDougall says. «The chemistry the four of us had was instant and undeniable. It felt like we’d barely scratched the surface of what we could do, which is why we wanted to get back in the studio».
It took nearly three years, but Circles Around the Sun – usually shortened to CATS – finally returned to Castaway 7 Studios in Ventura, California earlier this year. After the long wait, they made the most of their two weeks together, recording and mixing seven new instrumentals, enough to make Let It Wander a double album.
The players and the studio were the same, but Horne says the band’s approach to the music was completely different. «We were chasing a particular sound the first time around, so the process was slightly more structured. For this record, that map was gone, and we were on our own». Embracing their newfound freedom, CATS responded with seven focused performances filled with imaginative musical turns. Horne and Levy form a veritable groove machine that knows intuitively when to tighten up and when to stretch out. They expand and collapse the rhythmic pocket around Casal and MacDougall, who pass melodies back and forth in an elaborate game of musical tag as they take turns adding color and shade from a seemingly endless kaleidoscope of cosmic sounds.