Ryan, Dylan / Sand - Circa
Sand is...a progressive ensemble that skillfully negotiates the tenuous divide between avant-garde jazz and instrumental post-rock...exploring the harmonic, melodic and rhythmic intricacies of creative improvised music at volume levels more akin to rock than traditional jazz...As memorable as [the] writing is however, it's the dynamic interplay between the three musicians that imbues this date with its distinctive appeal." – AllAboutJazz
"Dylan Ryan is a drummer adept at combining his jazz skills with adventurous rock, resulting in music that maintains the cerebral and viceral qualities of both." – JazzTimes
"In his new band, Sand, Ryan couldn't have found a better guitarist than Tim Young, who could be mistaken for Bill Frisell, if Frisell enjoyed punching random people in the face. With an ass-kicking palate of sonic texture, Ryan, Young and bassist Devin Hoff offer something in between John Zorn's raucous free-jazz and the romantic stylings of Black Sabbath." – L.A. Weekly
Two years after the release of their impressive debut Sky Bleached, Dylan Ryan / Sand release Circa, a purposeful continuation of the aesthetic that the group had fostered on its first record. Circa, which features guitarist Timothy Young (David Sylvian, Reggie Watts, Wayne Horvitz), bassist Devin Hoff (Nels Cline Singers, Yoko Ono, Cibo Matto) and leader/composer/drummer Dylan Ryan (Herculaneum) has a wholly unique styling, which ranges from the fearlessly improvisational to the tender; the abrasive to the understated.
Regarding his intentions for Sand's second record, Ryan said, “The most important thing for me while putting this record together was the idea of playing on the strengths of the first record without completely abandoning the sound we stumbled onto. When I did the first record, Hoff, Young, and I hadn’t played a single show, or even played that much together yet so we were kind of feeling things out. After touring that record, I knew that I wanted to build on four main things; the harmonic openness or simplicity, the dramatic dynamic shifts, the ensemble passages, and especially group unison parts.”
Circa takes the most memorable elements of the debut record and expands upon them, honing the craft, and further distinguishing their sound. The sheer size of the band’s sound has increased immensely. The introspective pastoral moments of “Visionary Fantasy” are book-ended by sludge-trodden group passages and the shadows of Dark Americana in “Slow Sculpture”, which in turn are countered in “Possession” with highly imaginative Melvins-esque ensemble figures. Young’s blissful guitar phrases lend an almost vocal capacity to these songs as Ryan and Hoff offer a perfect vehicle for his exuberance.