For this new electronically focused album, John Carroll Kirby invited Canadian artist Yu Su to join him on production duties. Dance Ancestral loosely follows the narrative of a day unfolding; a reflection on patterns and routines – what Kirby calls “the innate steps we take in life.”
The nine tracks across Dance Ancestral reflect Kirby’s interest in various philosophies: paganism, Mayan religion, bacchanalia, pseudoscience and New Age. The album opens with the early morning bliss of “Dawn of New Day”, which features ambient pioneer Laraaji, then carries us through the day: from the early evening groove of “Frog Life” to the mystical evening album closer “Gabriel’s Gig”.
An in-demand musical collaborator for artists like Solange, Frank Ocean, Sebastian Tellier, Connan Mockasin and countless others, Kirby has lately focused on his own prolific solo output, with Dance Ancestral following four other albums on Stones Throw: his debut My Garden (2020); the ambient piano record Conflict (2020); his first film score, Cryptozoo: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (2021), and the jazz fusion record Septet (2021). That all these records are instrumental doesn’t get in the way of Kirby telling vivid stories.
“I’m not a lyricist but I feel compelled to give some people a bit of context,” Kirby says. “I like to have a story so people can imagine things and hopefully get more into my head. I make albums that come out naturally and I like the freedom to just go where my heart takes me.”
Photo by by Sela Shiloni