[31 March 2010]
The word “crossover” gets tossed around a lot when discussing Slow Six. The New York five-piece is said to be at the forefront of a movement that merges classical music with a rootsy, rock panache. It’s not a movement that’s overflowing with members, mind you, but the seat at the head of the table is one that Slow Six most definitely deserve. Yes, they’re a crossover band, but this reviewer will take things one step further. On Tomorrow Becomes You, their latest full-length, Slow Six merge music and art (I’m talking paintings here. There’s no need to drown you in semantics) in a profound manner.
Rarely has a band managed to evoke such varied mental landscapes as Slow Six. On Tomorrow Becomes You, the frantic and intoxicating work of both Christopher Tignor and Ben Lively unravel with unforeseen possibility. At just under six minutes, “Cloud Cover Part 1” is the shortest track on this seven-track opus, but it’s easily one of the most powerful. As mesmerizing percussion keeps the looping violins in check, the sprawling mastery of Slow Six becomes evident.
“Cloud Cover Part 1” leans a little heavy on the classical side of their “crossover” hybrid, but with its cerebral capabilities, its one of the many tracks on Tomorrow Becomes You that gives new weight to Slow Six’s unique sonic language.
Now, as to be expected with a seven-track record that clocks in at fifty-one minutes, Tomorrow Becomes You isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s engrossing, but requires patience. “Because Together We Resonate”, with its seemingly electronic approach, though entirely minimalist in nature, recalls some of Sigur Ros’s more daring work. It’s strange at times, but to peel away the layers of the track and put them back together again, listeners will be treated to an intriguing fusion of maritime roots with enigmatic and eccentrically electronic strokes of paint.
But only when Slow Six walk that fine line between traditional rock arrangements and classical arrangements does Tomorrow Becomes You work. When Slow Six teeter on either edge, or fall off the tightrope completely, such as on the manic “Sympathetic Response System Part 1”, there’s little more that can be evoked than a few rolling eyes. It’s rather unoriginal and isn’t remotely close to the daring and successful swings at the bat that keep Tomorrow Becomes You afloat.
It’s the bold and unabashed climb of “The Night You Left New York” (serving, rather unfortunately, as the album’s opening track) that steals the spotlight and propels the track into the upper echelon of “crossover” work. Beginning with a simple, rippling rhythm, “The Night You Left New York” blooms with a fervent intensity. Piece by piece, from warm, comfortable guitars to dramatic violins to pounding percussion, a picture unlike any other is created. “The Night You Left New York” is frenetic, sure, but the manner in which Slow Six keep the song wandering at a steady pace—and with a steady, even temperature, no less—creates music that’s not only heard but felt as well.
Tomorrow Becomes You isn’t always abundantly gorgeous or overwhelming. But rare is the museum where every piece knocks you on your ass. Tomorrow Becomes You is for those who aren’t looking for something immediate in their tunes; it’s for the dreamers who are willing to allow their music bridge gaps we never knew existed.