It's been 10 years since Toronto collective Lal began a musical journey based on the twin beliefs of escapism and change. Their sound from the outset was one of contrasts: icy, futuristic rhythms melting into warm basslines and soothing soul melodies, with reverberating atmospherics whirling about the spacious groove. Hints of Rosina's South Asian roots and Murr's hip hop formation seasoned their productions with a taste of tradition, while the overall sound suggested something far more progressive.
Those were the sonic essentials that characterized their 2002 breakout release Corners, later followed by the 2004 sophomore endeavor Warm Belly High Power, a record flush with confidence, it's wide-open soundscapes filled with intricate percussive twists and turns that bounced around from late-night bedtime slow burners to 3am bliss. The record garnered was proclaimed Best Soul Album 2004 by prominent Canadian music rag Exclaim! Magazine during a period that also saw possibly the most significant change to bless the group to date, the addition of bassist Ian de Souza as a permanent member. De Souza, who has recorded the likes of Rwandan singer Jean-Paul Samputu, Jesse Cook, and his own Sisters Euclid quartet - is a now a primary Lal composer, and his creative injections were noticed almost immediately as the group has progress both inside and outside the studio.
Now, with a few years to properly fuse the pieces into place, the groups latest disc promises to be their most impressive to date. Its title opens the discussion: Deportation - record that conveys immense feelings that disorientation, abandonment and injustice and that accompany such a dramatic change in circumstance. A dramatic sense of urgency pushes the groove, from the dark and pensive bassline an of "Erase Me" and desolate melody of "Wasteland", to the marching proletariat revolt-rap of "Hopeful". The project's creativity extends into a new media show with new media artist Faisal Anwar and projectionist Jose Garcia ,incorporating video images into and interactive and entirely unique stage set-up that pushes the audience to engage of the deep social messages that ripple through every tune.
Through this decade long voyage filled with all the ups and downs you'd image a group could go through, Lal has not only fought for change, but exploited it. Whether it was a pursuit for another sound or, more likely, working to make a difference politically through their incessant participation in local social movements, Lal's members have each worked vehemently to impact a measure of change in the world around them. As they unleash their latest creation and stand tall to be counted behind its artistic message, one thing's for sure - the future is undeniably brighter than it was yesterday. With any luck, that could be the one thing that won't change.
Rosina Kazi lead singer
Nicholas Murray Producer / composer / laptop
Ian de Souza composer/arranger/bassist