Since Rachel’s went on hiatus, there has been a huge number of acts treading the line between rock and neo-classical music, often with a side order of electronica. Whilst many are outstanding, what most are best at is that wispy melancholia that strings bring readily. The ‘rock’ part of the equation generally takes a back seat – and for good reason, because strings and drums often clash leaving a sound that’s urgent but tinny, without any real depth to it.
Slow Six’s 2007 album Private Times In Public Places had a fullness of sound to it unlike most of their peers, even if the prevalent mood was downbeat. The tracks’ duration was also of an almost Mahlerian scale, even if the band are essentially a chamber outfit. Tomorrow Becomes You is a shorter work, tighter and more concise. It also boasts a gloriously full sound that mixes any number of influences to create a varied but coherent whole. There are traces of influences as varied as the emotional scrapings of Dirty Three to the intellectual bombast of King Crimson, but nothing is allowed to meander meaninglessly, and neither are there any dreary displays of look-at-me virtuosity for the sake of it.
Essentially, the album consists of five pieces programmed as seven tracks. It’s topped and tailed by two upbeat epics where the strings share the melodic burden equally with the guitars. Full and multi-faceted, both are rich with melody and warmth. There is a symmetry to the record, and “Because Together We Resonate” provides the calm centre. It’s a beatless piece that sounds quite loose as if much of it is improvised. A bed of piano and subtle electronics provide the platform for the dominant violin.
Either side of the centre, there are a couple of two part pieces that fit together in different ways. The violin on the first part of “Cloud Cover” plays short, stacatto phrases that repeat, but change, giving the track a mechanical, serialist feel. Its twin is also its opposite, sweeping and lush like an organic take on ambient electronica. While “Cloud Cover”‘s parts are contrasting, the halves of “Sympathetic Response System” are more complementary. Starting with deep electro-bass pulses, part one is a showcase for some terrifically inventive drumming, that builds from simple rimshots into far more complex rhythms. The guitar provides the primary accompaniment, with the strings appearing as an afterthought towards the end. Part two uses the same melodic themes, but begins like an extended, downtempo coda, before it builds into a more rhythmically simple variation of the main theme.
Tomorrow Becomes You is a superb set that eschews the minimalist fashion followed by most neo-classical groups for something much richer and complex, but never gets bogged down by its own cleverness. It’s an emotional record that is equally at home with a happy face as it is a sad one.
1. The Night You Left New York 9:10
2. Cloud Cover (part 1) 5:51
3. Cloud Cover (part 2) 6:21
4. Because Together We Resonate 6:09
5. Sympathetic Response System (part 1) 7:24
6. Sympathetic Response System (part 2) 7:10
7. These Rivers Between Us 9:26