Slow Six’s latest CD offering, Tomorrow Becomes You, creeps in like a lamb, the vibrations of the guitar speaking gently in the ear. No shocker from a group that brought out Private Times in Public Places, the ensemble’s 2004 debut featuring three long-form bliss-out tracks and then their 2007 follow-up, Nor’easter, which mined a similar but perhaps more compositionally complex vein.
Slow Six is Rob Collins (Rhodes), Stephen Griesgraber (guitar), Ben Lively (violin), Theo Metz (drums), and Christopher Tignor (violins/software). Using this instrumental combination, Tignor has previously crafted an impressive catalog of gauzy, poetic music. Never an entirely ambient wallflower of a band, however, this time out they trade in some of the introspection and push their sound in a decidedly more visceral rhythmic direction. It’s all a bit more in your face (or ear, as the case may be) than they have set their sights before. On this album, that spare and slow-moving chorus opening “The Night You Left New York” is only the appetizer. The musicians quickly get caught up in a nine-minute game of developing rhythmic intensity.
This track and others may place a premium on that propulsive adrenaline drive, but it’s a dance that doesn’t bury some enchanting subtleties in the music. Even where the aggressive lines of “Cloud Cover” take center stage, fluttering just underneath these surfaces are complimentary interlocking lines that pull the ear in fresh directions. Later on, “Sympathetic Response System” plays a similar game, but this time the real jolt comes less out of the rhythmic manipulation than the play of more blatantly electronic timbres, shifting the focus a bit away from the acoustic performances that had been holding court. Both “Cloud Cover” and “Sympathetic Response System” have “Part 2” follow ups that reflect the preceding tracks with more delicacy. The shimmering tones and clips of found audio serve as a welcome breath and the most direct link back to the ensemble’s earlier albums.
For as attractive as the driving beats are, some of the album’s most fascinating sounds are captured in the metallic echo chamber of “Because Together We Resonate.” But really, it’s the CD’s closing track, “These Rivers Between Us,” that excels beyond everything that has come before. All the strategies employed throughout the album are refined and the layers weave over and through one another without completely unraveling the core. Everything seems to have lead to these final minutes. They satisfy and sate. Still, expect to hit replay a few more times just to be sure.