Wednesday 14 April 2021

'Life Stories EP' by Sun Circle

After a lengthy hiatus, it's with great excitement that the musical pairing of Deborah Jordan and Simon S reunite under the Sun Circle umbrella for their new EP 'Life Stories' - their first joint release in twelve years.

Futuristica Music has long been a beacon for contemporary, future- and nu-soul music.  Projects by Low Budget Soul, Stark and Electric Conversation helped to establish the UK label's vision for inspired, forward-thinking and imaginative music - an ethos the label still embody within their releases fifteen years later.  

Sun Circle's debut full-length 'Reborn' - originally released in 2009 - masterfully helped to cement that vision.  Serving as a quintessential nu-soul masterpiece, the project paired Simon S's atmospheric and ethereal production with the typically extraordinary vocal of Futuristica's First Lady, Deborah Jordan.  'Reborn' was bolstered by a slew of incredible tracks including 'Stars Fall Down', 'I Can See The Sun', 'Peaceful' and the album's awesome centrepiece 'My Story' - all sounding as glistening today as they did the day they were etched into Futuristica's legacy.

There's no mistaking that twelve years in between projects is an incredibly long time but the duo would be forgiven when considering the awesome body of work that has been amassed during Sun Circle's absence: Simon S has seen the extension of his music through the guises of his jazz-inspired hip-hop Jazz Chronicles and Peter Franks alter egos and numerous releases for each, as well as the introduction of his own 'Music 4 Alternative Souls' album released under his name.

Since 2009, Deborah Jordan has continued to solidify her name as a leading voice within the genre.  Following the release of 'The Light', two further solo releases followed in 'What You See' and 'See in the Dark', the latter of which we previously described as very possibly serving as the project that would be remembered as her "magnum opus" - such was the rapturous reception the project has gone on to receive. 

And, of course, as we addressed at the outset, the years in between have also seen the continual rise of Futuristica Music.  With releases celebrating nu-soul, jazz, hip-hop and R&B, the independent label, now celebrating the milestone of its fifteenth year, finds its brand being represented by a front-line team of boundless talent including Georgie Sweet, LaNote, Nathan Thomas and As Valet.

'Life Stories' boasts subtle variations within the compositions providing a nice update to the Sun Circle aesthetic as established through this EP's predecessor.  Perhaps Simon's work within the aforementioned Jazz Chronicles and Peter Franks have ushered in these new perspectives but the hip-hop influences on the EP opener, 'Cry', for example, is unmistakable.  The project's title track is the clear scene-stealer here however - with sublime and stirring production built around lush strings and accompaniment by Rachel Crennell on flute, Jordan so aptly makes herself at home breathing spine-tingling life into this absolute gem.  The project's final treat comes in the form of Marc Rapson's complete reinvention of 'Life Stories' as the EP's closing number.  Transforming the track into a glorious six minute wonder presented over two vastly different halves, Rapson once again earns his stripes as one of Futuristica's chief musical architects.

With talks already underway for Sun Circle to return to the studio, hopefully for a new full-length, 'Life Stories' provides that worthy successor to 'Reborn' but even if the next release does take another twelve years, there's little doubt that it'll still be worth the wait.

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