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Circles Around The Sun (Neal Casal) – Interludes For The Dead

November 29, 2016

Here is an album I missed in 2015. I stumbled across it recently on Neal Casal’s Instagram. Casal is the guitarist in the Chris Robinson Brotherhood. Casal mentioned Circles Around The Sun would be doing a live show.   So I googled the band and discovered they released an album late last year.  

What a story the band has.  In 2015 the remaining members of the Grateful Dead put on a set of mega concerts called Fare Thee Well.  Neal Casal was asked by the concert’s video director, Justin Kreutzmann, to compose and record more than five hours of original music to be played along with the visuals Kreutzmann was preparing for the Fare Thee Well intermissions.

Casal pulled together a studio band of keyboardist Adam MacDougall (a fellow member of the Chris Robinson Brotherhood), bassist Dan Horne (Beachwood Sparks and Jonathan Wilson) and drummer Mark Levy (The Congress).

All of the music on Interludes For The Dead was written collectively and spontaneously in the studio by the four players – with nothing prepared beforehand or added afterward – and recorded live by engineer J.P. Hesser.  It was two long days in the studio.

I went over to Spotify and gave it listen and instantly fell in love with it.  This is more than audio wallpaper – this is not ambient background music. Yes it is extended psychedelic jams, but these feel like songs.

It sounds like The Dead, yet to quote Casal from the liner notes “without feeling contrived or mimicked.”  As I listen to these instrumentals I hear The Grateful Dead, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, electric-era Miles Davis, Laurel Canyon rock, psychedelic funk and Pink Floyd to name a few.

This is an album that can be played low as background music or loud as foreground music. If I had found this album in 2015 it would easily made my top 10 list.


From → Music Reviews

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