with Sinkane and Hanna Benn
From the Promoter
Advance tickets also available at Rotate This & Soundscapes
Son Lux is the grand genre-less dream of Los Angeles composer Ryan Lott brought to roiling, vivid life with the help of two New Yorkers, guitarist Rafiq Bhatia and drummer Ian Chang. Each is a writer, producer, and performer with omnivorous taste and a penchant for wild improvisation—a bandwhose mix of electronic pop, unusual soul, and outright experimentalism feels more inviting than ever on the project's fifth album, Brighter Wounds. The songs therein leave behind Son Lux's typically universal themes fordeeply personal fare. While making Brighter Wounds,Lott became a father to a baby boy and lost a best friend to cancer. Days of "firsts" were also days of "lasts," and the normal fears that accompany parenthood were compounded by a frightening new reality—Lott's son arrived shortly after Election Day. These songs draw on all of that: warm reflections of a fading past, pain wrenched from a still-present loss, and a mix of anxiety and hope for a future that is promised to no one. Lott's voice, which ranges from ghostly whisperto choir-backed shout, is fittingly propelledby the trio's most dynamic score yet. Listen to the anthemic roar of "Dream State.” A yell blasts through a cloud of woodwinds and synths, and the song is off on a ceaseless tear. "Thoughwe are wide awake, this is a dream state," Lott sings through the technicolor haze, clinging to opposites. A momentary breath breaks the stride, before the journey resumes with even greater abandon. A choir enters the fray at the song's apex with a refrain heard elsewhere on the album: "out of the dark day, into the brighter night!"Launched in 2008 with At War with Walls & Mazes, Son Lux was initially a solo affair, the result of a classically trained mind straining against the constraints of the medium,turning piles of self-sourced note snippets into pulsing digital orchestras. Across 2011's We Are Risingand 2013's Lanterns, Lott maintained his auteur approach while broadening the Son Lux sound and guest list to unexpected results. The latter album drew the attention of several major pop acts, many of whom who incorporated moments from the album into their own works. Lorde even teamed up on a redux of "Easy," and covered the song on tour. In recent years, the project's list of collaborators has grown to include Woodkid, Moses Sumney, members of the Antlers, My Brightest Diamond, Olga Bell, and yMusic (who also contribute strings, winds, and brass to Brighter Wounds). Lott's extracurriculars have includedstarting a rap-pop-folk band with Sufjan Stevensand Serengeti called Sisyphus, and scoring films like The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigbyand Paper Towns. Bhatia and Chang, accomplished soloists and collaborators in their own right, were first brought on as touring musicians but soon found a home in SonLux, cowriting 2015's Boneswith Lott while on the road. Brighter Woundsinitiallytook shape remotely—the distance allowing Lott to sift through life-altering events—and was finalized together
It's soul music! And truly universal; uniting rhythm and styles from our world over to help you move, relate and be, Sinkane's Mean Love rolls like an emotional, existential history of the artist. Co-produced with long-time Sinkane collaborator and childhood friend Greg Lofaro, Ahmed Gallab has created an altogether unique compound of sound, stylistically nostalgic and ultramodern at the same time. From Gallab's childhood in Sudan there is a Pan-African influence of popular Sudanese music and haqibah, as well as distinct horn and synth arrangements more common to East Africa. This background merges with the lessons learned from Ahmed's stints with obsessive craftsmen such as Caribou, Yeasayerand Of Montreal, and especially the monumental task he underwent as musical director of'ATOMIC BOMB! The Music of William Onyeabor.' Gallab excavated and arranged a treasure trove of lost classics from the West African synth-pioneer to put together a now legendary series of performances. Alongside his band-mates in Sinkane (jaytram on drums, Ish Montgomery on bass, Jonny Lam on guitar), he also brought on guests Damon Albarn, David Byrne, The Lijadu Sisters, Money Mark and members of Hot Chip,LCD Soundsystem, The Rapture, and Blood Orange.
The experiences from this on-going endeavor contribute to the collective feel of the record.It is Gallab's uncanny ability to embrace and assemble a huge history as pure and generous modern-musical expressions. The funky, infectious brasslines of "New Name," as well as the Equatorial "Young Trouble" are prime examples of the incredible aptitude of Sinkane's songwriting. Employing the architecture of pop, and a forward-thinking approach to its classic instrumentation, the vibes of Sinkane's deep-groove past remain intact, in full force.We could lay down a bunch of extra buzzwords to this collection, of course; there are doses of West African funk slow-burners, a noir blaxploitation cool, and a more afro-centric Curtis Mayfield is present, specifically in album standout "Hold Tight." In the end, these songs GIVE, and its up to you to take what you want.
You can detect a surprising country soul rising in the title track, "Mean Love", and also in the hauntingly beautiful slide guitar work of "Galley Boys." Both tunes are reminiscent of a time when soul heavyweights such as James Carr and Solomon Burke recorded juke joint anthems. The title track sits proudly on the same mantelpiece as an updated version of those classics, a tearjerker that will grip the imaginative heart of modern concertgoers and collectors of dusty soul on vinyl.
It takes a disciplined mind as well as an artistic heart to curate so many influences and disseminate them wisely. A longing and verve for his African origins emanates from the album in a particularly poignant sequence of songs. When "Son" undulates with the mantra, "I will not forget where I came from" and segues into the Sudanese Pop melody of"Omdurman," (Gallab's hometown in Sudan) it is the romantic recapturing of a lost childhood memory, and a jolt to the listener's solar plexus. Says lyricist Greg Lofaro,"I think, to a lot of secular folks, the most compelling argument for heaven is the thought of seeing loved ones. In this case, the melody informed the content very specifically and I knew I wanted to speak graciously, not bitterly, about that. Ahmed typically names sketches for what they're inspired by or remind him of. Often, that's something Sudanese ("Warm Spell" had been called "Kurdufan" for awhile). So, it was fitting and we kept the title Omdurman." This song also has a live quality – when you hear in on record, it precipitates the image of a live hymn, a promise that begs for an audience call and response, "Where, if I should settle down, will I finally settle?"
Mean Love is an album with an open door invitation, and gets deeper with every listen.You hear it right away in the blistering opening track, "How We Be." An instant classic, sounding like a lost gem of soul funk, a sweetness of voice alongside honey bass lines, the tune grips you and makes you wish for a dance floor, while enticing you to stay for the whole journey of the album.
Paul Gilroy, the path-breaking scholar and historian of the music of the Black Atlantic diaspora, once wrote that a primary characteristic of black cross-Atlantic creativity is a "desire to transcend both the structures of the nation state and constraints of ethnicity and national particularity." Nothing could be more precise about the cross-disciplined, multifaceted second album by Ahmed Abdullahi Gallab, aka Sinkane: Mean Love.