The darker second act of a crazed sci-fi drama.
Part two of a trilogy of albums that has an ambitious vision, Son Lux is never a band that rests on its laurels. Prolific and insightful, Tomorrows II is the latest chapter in the exciting alternative electronica trio’s band. This instalment is much more immediate and emotional than the opening album and feels thematically much clearer and darker in tone.
The idea with Tomorrows II is to make the strange familiar and the familiar strange as time dilutes itself. What this means in sound design is that pianos and vocals break up into molecular synths that break up and crackle. On the flipside weird and unusual sound samples make up drum tracks and basslines. It is very Son Lux and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
The album opens with the solemn ‘Warning’ which paints the tone with pianos and vocals that move from minimalistic patterns to lush shimmers of light. These are joined by pensive string arrangements, double bass and strange percussive finger taps for ‘Molecules’. It is a sombre and understated opening to the album and the drums and grooves kick in with ‘Prophecy’ and its chill soulful guitars and backing vocals. Alongside Ryan Lott are a rich choir that have been snippet up and rearranged into unusual patterns alongside the actual vocal lines they sung. It takes some getting used to but its a great track.
One of the album centrepieces is ‘Leaves’ which descends into an alternative glitch dance. The guitars, drums and bass are all running at slightly different speeds and tumbling themselves into each other during the second half. It is disorientating but very moreish at the same time. Also disorientating and more akin to a modern Nordic classical composer is ‘Out of Wind’ which plays with prepared pianos and plucked strings bent out of whack. This leads beautifully into ‘Apart’ which pulls all of these sounds into a riff that sounds like a highspeed rodeo cowboy. As the music glitches into lopsided riffs, the lyrics ‘maybe I should become somebody else’ repeats. It is also the moment of musical clarity on the album where the vocals and instruments are clearest – as if this is the big message the album wants to discuss. It is possibly my favourite track on the album for its expressive and unique alt-rock sensibilities. It leads excellently into the musical collage that is ‘Bodies’ where handclaps and skin slaps paint a splatter alongside plucked strings and abstract vocal snippets. It is some of the more avant-garde work Son Lux has done for a while.
The closing trio of songs on the album start to move towards a tainted resolution of sorts by becoming more and more fractured. ‘Weight of Your Air’ is a celestial synth that sizzles in and out of tune in a distressed manner. Who thought Son Lux would veer into drone music? ‘Live Another Life’ is the second centrepiece of the album which is quintessential Son Lux. Everything you expect from an emotional gut-punch is here musically. Huge drums, thick basslines, chopped up synths, overwrought strings and Lott’s sad voice singing simple declarations of misery and wonder. The album exits under the cinematic ambience of ‘Borrowed Eyes’.
Again, like Tomorrows I, there are several texture tracks here that push an EP out into album. If you aren’t onboard with the ambient and abstract side of sound design then potentially four of the tracks aren’t going to matter to you. I worried that these albums would get a little bloated and whilst I would argue Tomorrows II certain doesn’t for me, those looking for typical song structures may find this more a difficult listen. It is certainly artistic and cinematic though.
Recommended track: Leaves
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