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Circles Around the Sun Turn the Turf Club into a Psychedelic Disco

Photo: Circles Around the Sun

The legacy of psychedelic music runs wide.

From obvious bands and scenes that draw from late 60’s psychedelic rock, think the Jam world and David Fripp, to others that integrate psychedelic ideas more subtley, the ways the movement has shaped the musical world cannot be overstated.

As with any musical lineage, the best practitioners take familiar elements from the past and turn them into something fresh. This is sometimes done with contemporary sounds and approaches and sometimes with something so out of left field that you’re left listening in wonder.

Sure, there are derivative bands that copy without originality, but the bands that you want to hear observe the past and expand upon it, creating something unique in the process. In the world of psychedelia, this has happened too many times to count.

Enter Circles Around the Sun.

The band formed in 2015 under possibly the most historically psychedelic of circumstances: they were making recordings to play during the set breaks of the Grateful Dead’s Fare Thee Well concerts. Since then, the group has maintained a solid touring schedule and released multiple studio albums that have expanded and evolved.

Their most recent self-titled release is the best and danciest of their albums. Said danciness a big part of what makes it great.

On the album, their final with late founder Neal Casal, they add drum machines to take their trademark jammy, sometimes dead-inspired psychedelia. They dig deeper into grooves as a result. There’s a distinct disco influence.

The term “cosmic disco” has been used by many to describe the album and is very apt in capturing it.

Although it didn’t register as a blip on mainstream critical or commercial radars, it was successful from an artistic and creative standpoint. It’s a compelling left turn from a band that has already had several.

During Thursday Night’s Show at the Turf Club, Circles Around the Sun brought a cosmic disco groove and more, moving fluidly between genres and styles while keeping the audience moving. The stellar musicianship of their studio work came through well live.

The keyboards of Adam Macdougall especially stuck out. Adam is a wizard. Adam’s playing of a myriad of keyboards, synths, and clavs was breathtaking. His tones colored songs interestingly, and his solos were perfect.

Dan Horne and Mark Levy, on bass and drums respectively, created the essential and often funky foundations of their jams.

The sonic spaces explored by the band were varied, from smoother funk to the occasional more “typical” rock peak. They navigated it all with a sense of joy, which was shared by the audience.

Their performance, combined with an excellent opening set by Harpist and singer Mikaela Davis, who the band has collaborated with, made for a very solid Thursday night of live music.

Written by Aaron Williams

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