This feels a bit like Light In The Attic territory but the wonderful Soundway Records have scooped a real lost gem here. They’ll be re-releasing the one and only self-titled album by Circus Underwater from 1984 and coming to shelves near you in newly mastered form on 15th September.
It’s a record that’s long been illusive but with a hefty reputation as a post hippy, pre-ambient touchstone. The work of two long time Maryland buddies, Richard Sales and Jay Yarnall, ‘Circus Underwater’ reflected the duo’s psychedelic prog past, a shared Dead Head devotion and their tuning into the emerging eighties electronic explorations of Fripp and Eno. The album also marked another chapter in their heady back stories: Sales, a guitarist who almost played Woodstock then turned down the chance to sign for Fahey’s Tahoma Records; and Yarnall, a drummer and wheelchair user, who had been seriously injured after a trip-induced jump from an apartment window, then moved to Marin, California to dive into hippy-dom.
Throughout it all the pair stayed connected and Yarnall, having over time recovered arm movement, renewed his urge to make it in music through the use of a trusty Korg. As Sales remembers ‘Jay had learned how to make musical soup – very stoned beds of sound that had no chord changes but bubbled and bleeped’. The ‘Circus Underwater’ recording project had begun and the result culminated in the album that Soundway have recovered.
Sounding like a road trip through the friends’ musical journey together ‘Circus Underwater’ flows through a giddy mix of early electronica, Grateful Dead blues, lo-fi prog and new wave economy. Preview track ‘The Surface Of The Water’ signposts the improbable brilliance of their sound with funky stoner beats, dreamy guitar-scapes, zoomy synths and cool, hushed vocals given sparkle by flighty backing singers. It’s like a trip hop premonition. Get in line for more medicine from the album now…
Pre-order your copy of ‘Circus Underwater’ from your local record store or direct from Soundway Records HERE