Circumnavigate - 'When Worlds Collide'
We're not quite going to get through everything we wanted before Christmas and the inevitability of our Albums of the Year list, apologies to anyone we've missed, we always feel so bad when we run out of time. One late album release of the year has come from the Norwegian / British band Circumnavigate entitled 'When Worlds Collide', and I wanted us to cover this because we have followed them for a couple of years now, and I think they offer something slightly different, which makes them interesting. Taking influences from across genres, they write engaging music with pop, folk and jazz references interspersed throughout.
The album opens with 'Dreamer', with strings and trumpet and it's a soft opening, but a track that builds to a really emotional climax. But it is 'Underwater' that really gets me involved in the album, a track written to a cinematic scale, but still with that trumpet peeking through and adding an unusual and welcomed texture. 'Secret' is a gorgeous track, acoustic pop with complex harmonies and some inevitable subtle contributions again from the trumpet, opening up to a charming melody and I love the way the guitar carries the track through to its conclusion.
'Space in Between' is a piano driven ballad, which tool me a while to get into, but just take a listen to the way the track soars to a conclusion, with Zeiner-Gundersen's vocals just sounding so perfect. 'Another 20 Seconds' has a big melodic chorus which will hit you straight away, and building with another sweeping cinematic conclusion. Both 'Lifelines' and 'Back in the Day' were released previously as singles (and featured on here previously), and I still like 'Lifelines' in particular - now I'm struck by the lyrics, and a theme which is consistent throughout the album of connections between different countries and cultures.
'I'll Be Here' is carried along by the delicacy of a gentle piano theme, soft harmonies float through the air, and glimpses of trumpet solo's appear through the mist before the track builds to a rich, intense climax with strings at the fore. 'Just a Kid' is a particularly lovely jazz influenced track, the strings here are really in their element, and Zeiner-Gundersen's vocals against the string accompaniment work particularly well, before a trumpet solo accompanied by bass carries the music over the horizon and back. The album ends with 'A Part' and another lovely piano theme, musically expressive and using strings to crescendo to another big musical climax.
I like this album firstly for its ambition, for a band to release a debut on such a scale is a testament to their musical skills, songwriting abilities and desire to do something different. It mostly works too. I guess we're here to offer opinions and I do occasionally feel that when trumpet, strings, vocals and piano are 'competing' then individual elements almost get a bit lost - although it sounded better on my home speakers rather than in the car or travelling using standard headphones. It is also true to say that it has taken me a few listens to really get into the detail of this 12 song album, and I was patient because I've liked the band for a while and knew I'd like it if I stuck with it. I hope everyone is that patient because Circumnavigate are a classy band who ooze this lovely musicality in everything that they do, from the subtle piano touches to those wonderful trumpet contributions. I really hope you'll all get to know it over the Christmas period.
Nordic Music Review 8/10
If you like this album, please help support the band by buying it here https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/when-worlds-collide/1322014593, or by visiting their merchandise page here http://circumnavigateofficialmerch.bigcartel.com/