On November 27th, 2015, Circles Around The Sun released their instrumental album, Interludes For The Dead, via Rhino Records. Led by guitarist Neal Casal, the group consists of Adam MacDougall, Dan Horne, and Mark Levy.
The music was recorded in conjunction with visuals — mainly pictures documenting the 50 year history of the Grateful Dead — provided by Justin Kreutzmann (son of Grateful Dead drummer Bill Kreutzmann) for the band's 2015 Fare Thee Well concerts during the 4th of July weekend in Chicago. The music and visuals played together during the set breaks of those concerts and the previous weekend's concerts at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, CA.
In an interview with Relix, Casal talked about how the project with Justin came about and the creation of the album:
We share a similar sense of gallows humor, and we just hit it off very quickly and became fast friends during the chaos of Move Me Brightly. That led to Justin asking me to compose the score for the Bob Weir documentary The Other One and, after that, he asked me to do the music for the screens during the Fare Thee Well shows…
This was all of us going deeply into our Grateful Dead influence and bringing it forth, and trying to walk that fine line between being reverent and staying within the sounds and staying within that color palette. There is a palette of Grateful Dead musical colors that is there to work with and if you go too far outside of it, then it doesn’t feel familiar. It doesn’t feel right, but if you just mimic or if you just kind of paint by numbers, then it’s too close to the source and somehow, it undermines the mission. So there’s this really fine line that we tried to walk and a small window to try to fit ourselves through. The sensitivity of these musicians is what made it successful. We did it all in two days. We did it all live. There are no overdubs. We just caught lightning in a bottle.
Interludes For The Dead features 10 songs on two discs that span a lengthy 2 hours and twenty-five minutes. The music is very meditative at times, with fluid guitar work, lush keyboards, spacey sound effects, and gently cascading rhythms.
Song's like "Space Wheel," "Farewell Franklins," "Scarlotta's Magnolia's," and their take on "Mountains Of The Moon" are obvious nods to similar Grateful Dead songs, but the band do a creative job of reinterpreting the tunes to give them a fresh and exploratory feeling.