CIRCUMNAVIGATE – When Worlds Collide (Own Label)

When Worlds CollideThe members of Circumnavigate are from Sandvika, Norway and from London, so it’s not unnatural that this band has a particular interest in making music about the meeting of cultures, communities and people. When Worlds Collide, a twelve-track Kickstarter-funded project, is the band’s debut outing, although they have been a functioning ensemble for some time.

This is an ambitious album, debut or no, with its extravagantly lush arrangement and production. Glossy, shiny tracks based on piano or guitar lines are heavily layered with delicate strings as an angelic chorus of backing vocals insinuate their way through and muted, jazzy trumpets provide subtle punctuation.

It’s an album that cries out to be heard via a decent music system to get the full benefit of the production. Compressing the audio (via laptop speakers for instance) can make it seem a bit squashed together and, unfortunately, it’s slightly too easy to let this rich curtain of sound sloosh politely around in the background. That’s a shame, because there are some terrific songs and musicians at work here.

Singer Sigrid Zeiner-Gundersen has a cool, crystalline voice that soars with an easy precision through its soprano range. Occasionally, her vocal style is slightly reminiscent of Bella Hardy – certainly no bad thing.

Lyrics are clear and audible, tending to frankness (“You used to piss me off” from the upbeat sibling love song ‘Back In The Day’) mixed with a touch of new age (“It is what it is now” advice for dealing with the commitment-phobe in ‘Breathe Slow’).

After repeated listens, any slight lingering reservations about this album really come down to what comes across as an excess of production. It’s a matter of personal taste, ultimately, but a less smoothly processed sound might allow the emotional heart of the band to surface more readily. Obviously, the band aims to create a specific ambience and soundscape, but dialling back at the mixing desk and allowing more of the songs’ individual identities to break through would be very welcome.
Su O’Brien

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Artist website:

The single ‘Secret’ – official video: