The NBTMusic Review 140

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Light in Cages – album launch Zack’s, Wilson’s Wharf 28 October.

By Helge Janssen

I first came across Rowan Stuart when he opened for a Jaspar Lepak gig @ St. Clements in Musgrave Road more than a year ago. He had already become well known via Cynosure a “quirky fun-pop-rock band” in the words of Rowan himself. At St. Clements, he had a way with creating guitar loops and backing beats that grew the sound beyond he and bassist Jared Collison’s stage presence. All the while Rowan’s eyes would dart around: audience to guitar, drum beat/loop to audience, microphone to foot pedals….as if he was looking for something unfathomable, seemingly out of reach. At the same time he was having fun experimenting before a highly appreciative audience. But quite clearly the glint in Rowan’s eye (a single eye peering through the curtain of his fringe) was searching for a greater challenge.

Light in Cages – Rowan’s solo project alias transmuting into a band for performances – literally burst onto the Durban rock scene @ Zack’s on a rainy Sunday night. Heading the line up was multitalented Rowan (lyricist, vocals, lead guitar, synth programming); Jared (bass); and Jude Kendrick (drums). I sensed immediately that there had been a shift in Rowan, a shedding, displaying a masterful command of his performance that was grounded, driving, inimitable. He has been hard at work, realigning his planets and taking stock of his life, allowing his lyrics and songs to speak for themselves. As such, this break-away venture bares all the courage of self-exploration within a context of philosophical portent. But I also sensed there is a lot more in dynamo Rowan – in perfect voice, a voice with a range of which great legends are made – that wants to kick ass. He certainly has rock star looks and style, wearing black shirt, black skinny-jeans and hipster black and white checked belt. Long time collaborator Jared was solid on bass, complimenting Rowan with confident ease. Newcomer Jude gave a vigorous and beat-perfect performance on drums.

There is certainly light – and darkness – with immense intelligence in the lyrics, which are most epic. The melodies are haunting and memorable. There is magnificence in the musical arrangements that are many-layered, which I see (given time) being performed with full orchestral accompaniment. Time will prove just how far ‘Light in Cages’ has raised the bar in this genre and as such this is indeed an exciting and much needed addition to South Africa’s rock scene.

The CD cover is a direct link to this projects name: a man in a state of ecstatic abandonment with light emanating from his chest cavity, and who is surrounded by a bleak landscape swathed in darkness. The immediate impact is of a soul trapped in a human body yet forever free. It is of note too, that while the rib cage is an ‘entrapment’ it is also a flexible protection.

The CD has been expertly produced and recorded by Rowan with Brent Quintin mixing and mastering. The talents of Sidney Rash were used on drums, with Rowan completing the range of backup musical instruments: bass, guitars, programming.

I have at least two best best favourite tracks: “Symphony” and “The Labyrinth”.

Here are the lyrics courtesy of Rowan:

SYMPHONY

They say that we were once beasts
Who rose from the ground
We were bound and displeased

They say our thirst never died
As we grew in our numbers
So we grew in our pride

I say that beasts we may be
But blessed with the ability to better are we

So come on, come on baby please
Won’t you close your box of vanities
Cause there’s a symphony
It’s called Humanity
And every note, every beat
Is an angel reborn

If we choose to live and let live
To create and to wonder
And take less than we give

We can break from these cages of skin
Becoming humane and not merely human

So come on, come on baby please
Won’t you close your box of vanities
Cause there’s a symphony
It’s called Humanity
And every note, every beatIs an angel reborn
Is an angel reborn

There’s a symphony
Called humanity
And every note, every beat
Every note, every beat
Every note, every beat
Is an angel reborn

————————-

THE LABYRINTH

Curse of birth or gift of the divine
Sworn to walk this trying maze of mine

I’d just watch the sky to stay strong
And dreaming between the stars
I’d forge on

Cause I could never stop this search, it is my fate
To walk the labyrinth

And every time you tear me down I’ll recreate
Myself inside of it
The labyrinth
It’s in my veins now

Whispers and stirring bones
Of those before
So few find the prize
We die for

But I could never stop this search, it is my fate
To walk the labyrinth

And every time you tear me down I’ll recreate
Myself inside of it
The labyrinth
It’s in my veins now

This is rock music at its fledging best!

If Rowan were a fine artist, I would call this the world’s first rock instillation art piece!

It is going to be interesting to see if Rowan will succeed in enticing people to buy into his music rather than into his name or image, or whether there is a calling of which he himself is as yet unaware. After all rock music is very much about lifestyle and performance that marries and drives home its liberating message.

On its own, the CD is an astounding achievement. Get your copy now!

Visit Light in Cages web site at: http://www.lightincages.com/fr_music and get a free download of a track.

You can also visit the Facebook page at:
https://www.facebook.com/LightInCages?ref=ts&fref=ts

Tracks from this album can be heard all over the NBTMusicRadio 24 stream, specially though, during the hour of 7 PM Berlin time (that’s 6 PM UK,  1 PM New york)

http://nbtmusicradio.playtheradio.com/
TuneIn (for blackberry and android):NBTMusicRadio

iTunes: Click on ‘Advanced’ then ‘Open Stream’

and paste: http://listen.radionomy.com/nbtmusicradio.m3u

stream thru your Media Player: http://listen.radionomy.com/nbtmusicradio.m3u

 

 

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