SINGAPORE — With the much-anticipated release of ‘Tomorrows III’, New York-based soundscape artists Son Lux has put together a gripping live performance for NPR’s Tiny Desk series, out now. The ‘Tomorrows’ material lives and breathes in a truly blood-flowing way, giving the material a distinct living and breathing identity.
Arriving at a time of considerable uncertainty in the world, Son Lux’s multi-album ‘Tomorrows’ is ambitious in scope and intent. Born of an active, intentional approach to shaping sound, the music reminds us of the necessity of questioning assumptions, and of sitting with the tension. The album has been written by The AV Club as “One of the year’s must-hear releases” and “Beams and shards of sounds in many colors, all combining to make something very mesmeric, as always” described by BBC.
“A Different Kind of Love”, the atmospheric single lifted from ‘Tomorrows III’, is a song that encompasses thick punches of percussions and heaves through a foggy atmosphere of sound. Instruments remain mostly out of focus, but in brief moments, flurries of strings and woodwinds emerge and recede from the fog. “I need a different kind of love,” Lott sings at the start. But what reads as a self-serving plea turns on its head as the song becomes a confession. “What loudly righteous prayers from this coward’s lung,” Lott sings in the final moments, in what feels like an admission of the many things that are said to be done in love that hurt others.
From the start, Son Lux has operated as something akin to a sonic test kitchen. The band strives to question deeply held assumptions about how music is made and re-construct it from a molecular level. What began as a solo project for founder Ryan Lott expanded in 2014, thanks to a kinship with Ian Chang and Rafiq Bhatia too strong to ignore. The trio strengthened their chemistry and honed their collective intuition while creating, releasing, and touring five recordings, including LPs Bones (2015) and Brighter Wounds (2018). A carefully cultivated musical language rooted in curiosity and balancing opposites largely eschews genre and structural conventions.
And yet, the band remains audibly indebted to iconoclastic artists in soul, hip-hop, and experimental improvisation who themselves carved new paths forward. Distilling these varied influences, Son Lux searches for equilibrium of raw emotional intimacy and meticulous electronic constructions.
Son Lux is a geographically and culturally diverse band, with Rafiq Bhatia, Ian Chang, and Ryan Lott each bringing their unique sonic approach to create an otherworldly whole. Son Lux’s balancing of raw emotional intimacy and meticulous electronic constructions, coupled with the act of distilling their varied influences, has most strongly shaped their identity.
Based in New York, Rafiq Bhatia is the first-generation American son of Muslim immigrant parents who trace their ancestry to India by way of East Africa. Early influences such as Jimi Hendrix, John Coltrane, and Madlib—as well as mentors and collaborators including Vijay Iyer and Billy Hart—prompted him to see music as a way to actively shape and represent his own identity, not limited by anyone else’s prescribed perspective.
When Ian Chang describes his creative process, the phrase “third culture” keeps coming up. Born in the colony of Hong Kong in 1988, Chang has lived a nomadic life. Stationed out of New York for 10 years and since relocated to Dallas, Texas, he built an impressive roster of progressive pop collaborators such as Moses Sumney, Joan As Policewoman, and Matthew Dear, among others, all while performing internationally and recording as a member of Son Lux and Landlady. Recently, Chang hosted a “Selects” show on Clockenflap Music as well as created a special mix for Hong Kong Community Radio.
Ryan Lott makes his home in Los Angeles, but grew up all over the United States. Music was the one constant, his formative years spent at the piano. In addition to an extensive career writing music for dance, he also has become a sought after composer for advertising, television, and film. Lott’s feature film credits include The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby (2014), Paper Towns (2015), and Mean Dreams (2017). He has co-produced and co-written music for and with Woodkid, Sufjan Stevens, and Lorde.
The deluxe ‘Tomorrows’ physical edition spanning Volumes I, II, and III will be released on July 30th via City Slang, with ‘Tomorrows III’ out now.
Watch their NPR Tiny Desk concert below: