Review: Son Lux’s Beautiful Anxiety In ‘Tomorrows I’

Son Lux | Tomorrows I | City Slang

Release Date: 14 August, 2020

More pervasive than a virus, anxiety and urgency has spread across our physical and virtual landscapes. The growing inequities of centuries old and current day complexes of oppression has reached a critical and necessary breaking point, forcing us out of our severe isolation back together in a call for justice. All the while, the continued trajectory towards climate catastrophe still creeps across the horizon into our view, another result of the valuing of profit over people.

As we near September 2020, the tumultuous nature of our collective experiences throughout this year is almost indescribable; yet as much as we would like to blame the crumbling of our current society on the world at large at the start of a new decade, the truth is – the ways in which we have been living, this “normalcy” and its obvious flaws that are not anything new for anyone paying attention, are simply being exposed in their true capacity – in part due to the worst health crisis we have seen in a century.

The experimental artistry of Son Lux captures this perfectly, and with good reason. Founded initially as a solo project by classically trained composer Ryan Lott, Son Lux eventually morphed into a band as guitarist Rafiq Bhatia and drummer Ian Chang joined forces and return with their album ‘Tomorrows I‘, the first of three long-format volumes; with the other volumes scheduled for release throughout the rest of the year. 

The three volumes are focused on breaking away from what we’ve come to know; an oppressive and dangerous state of being that we inhabit each and every day – an insidious beast that crawls beneath our skins as individuals and as a society – yet, as upsetting as this may seem, it’s incredibly important for us to note that destruction is a form of creation. From the ashes of what was will always arise something new, as we ask questions, take action, work hard together to consistently be better and embrace transformation with open arms.

The most notable aspect of ‘Tomorrows I’ is how precisely the band have captured their intended concept, even if one were to listen to the album without context provided. It’s more so an experience than a track by track focus; it’s akin to a film – a strong, clear and concise narrative – in which jumping in halfway through would not accurately portray the artistic vision intended by the creators. The album is best listened to from start to finish in one go – the outstanding composition in each track is to be appreciated in and of itself through a single listening experience.

The signature and bountiful theatrics associated with Son Lux and Lott’s powerfully eloquent vocal delivery pierces one’s heart – with elements of multiple different genres such as R&B, jazz, blues, classical music, ambient and even remnants of their earlier, cinematic post-rock style; ‘Tomorrows I’ is bountiful to behold. ‘Plans We Made’ and the album closer ‘Involution’ are fervent with a dark theatrical passion, climactic and bold in their delivery while contrasting tracks as such as ‘Only’ and ‘Honesty’ are crafted with more gradual tempos, slower and richer with progressive beats reminiscent of atmospheric trip-hop, with the use of delicately woven textures and, impressively, the use of silence immersing one in the compositions, the phenomenal use of percussion a definite highlight.

Tracks such as ‘Last Light’ showcase one of the most intriguing aspects of ‘Tomorrows I’ which is the use of atypical song structures and time signatures, constructed in a way that sounds effortlessly complex yet perfectly retains the concept as well as Son Lux’s distinct personality.

Throughout the entire album, within each track no matter the composition, there lingers a tense atmospheric anxiety – howling phantoms urging us forward, which considering the concept, is not a negative aspect at all but instead, an incredible feat.

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Rating: 9 / 10

Feature Image: Son Lux by Djeneba Aduayom