Track/Video: Esteemed NZ spiritual jazz collective The Circling Sun preview the refreshing ‘Kohan’ from their long-awaited debut album ‘Spirits’

Playing the long game, letting the sounds ferment, whatever way you look at it, New Zealand spiritual jazz collective The Circling Sun seem to prefer any long and winding road. After two decades of playing together and gradually building on their live reputation as show stealers, this fluid congregation of jazzers, record collectors, producers and DJs have finally reached readiness to release their first album ‘Spirits’ on Soundway Records (available from 19th May).

Drawn from the confluence of various Auckland/ Tamaki Makarau bands, The Circling Sun revolves around the restless energies of drummer/ percussionist Julien Dyne, the creator of the much-spun broken beat necessity Pins and Digits (2007) as well as contributor to the mighty Soundway album catalogue with Teal (2018) and Modes (2021). But the ensemble is so much more than a singular vision, it’s orchestral in scale and ambition energised by vibrant brass to woodwind discussions as well as urgent rhythmic conversations. Dyne sums up the group’s mission as ‘An education in, and homage to, the great African American innovators’.

On ‘Spirits’ the collective also look to reach out beyond their influences and well-chartered performance sound, promising all original compositions on the album and adding shifting strata to each cut. It feels like The Circling Sun are setting out to balance their improvised spirit with some more considered detail. From arcing synth lines to electronic washes to the earthy soul of a local Maori and Pacific Island choir, this is the fusion of retro and recent, ancient and modern.

For further elaboration catch the rippling refreshment of the album’s first preview ‘Kohan’. It’s somehow inseparably slinky and celestial. The vocal, trilling flute lines, the afro-cuban piano stabs, those scuttling rhythms, sci -fi synths, the choral highs and sighs, all blend to give ‘Kohan’ a cosmic jazz to high pop fluidity. Here is a track rooted in a spring heeled bossa strut that divides and sub-divides but retains its momentum. Signs are The Circling Sun need to be on your orbit.

Pre-order your copy of ‘Spirits’ by The Circling Sun from Soundway Records HERE

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