Roam has gotten around in the Toronto music scene, known by fans for its great acoustics. The band is classified under the “world roots” genre and carries this title well with its eastern tunes. This makes the band unique to western music and remarkably avant-garde. I admire the group for its experimental nature, especially with their latest release Lumina.
‘Dulce Dolor’ is the first track on the album, exhibiting a smooth atmospheric set-up with this tune. The eastern overtones are established immediately and though the music is subdued, the song’s rhythm and pitch keep it from being bland. This would be great as a meditation song and fits with that group of people with the spiritual character that this song portrays. The album picks up its pace through ‘Whole World’, which sets itself apart from the previous song. It still maintains the same eastern feeling, though this time it seems less Hindi and more Saudi Arabian. It leads on a playful tune, but the words balance hope and dread.
‘Mon Frere’ is not the strongest song of the album, but does well to add to the present style. If you’re looking for spunk or bite to your music, this album isn’t for you, although nothing about Lumina claims to be from the hardcore side of things. I feel that this song acts in a way that tries to combine Asiatic music to European instruments. The result is interesting, but not exactly innovating. I found that the vocals stood out the most with ‘Anytime’, giving it some uniqueness with its place on the album. The tune has its own sternness to it, further establishing it as different from the others.
A worn-down feeling comes from ‘Geraldine’ in contrast to the other songs. There isn’t much to say about the autonomy of this song since it sounds like the others for the most part, not much sets it apart. For an experimental band, this track sounds similar to the others – like a repeated trial of sounds. ‘Throw Fear’ is another sleepy song, but I suppose you have to have a few of these to appreciate the ones that really pop out. That said, if you find yourself loving the acoustics in the other songs, then you will have no problem with falling in love with this track. The beautiful rhythm, the eastern influence – it’s all there. There’s just nothing else to give it more of a backbone.
‘Hymn to Her’ have the vocals trying to do something different, coupled with a much perkier tune. It almost immediately became my favourite song on the album when it picks up. It transcends the need to be different and the need to belong and somehow achieves both. Subtlety flirts with outright expression in this piece… and it’s a cover song to the 1986 song by The Pretenders of the same name. Sure, the best song on the album was borrowed from another band, it isn’t a bad cover.
The stock sounds mixed in with the already-present eastern tune in the song ‘Can’t Stand By’ provides an interesting change to things. The message is inspirational and holds more weight as an overall song than the others before it. Other than the fundamental message here, the tune is almost a carbon copy of the other songs, though the acoustics maintain their careful touch.
Asiatic inspiration is evident in ‘Ode to Hope’ and is more haunting in its execution. The absence of words gives this song more power as it relies only on sound to carry the feeling of hope. ‘Silver Lining’ sounds the same, holds the same sentiment, and is portrayed in the same style as the other songs in the album. I fail to see any uniqueness in it though I can see it as a song to carry on the atmosphere that this band has established. Just when I think that this music couldn’t be any slower and more subdued, we get this final track that makes Ambien look like methamphetamine. I suppose that’s fine for the lovers of slow music and I get the feeling that I’m not exactly the target audience here.
I do appreciate the change of style here, the dare to be different from other Western bands by tapping into Eastern influence. Roam is unique and anyone looking for something a bit different, they should definitely give Lumina a listen.
For more on Roam, visit roammusic.net.