If The Inevitable Rise & Liberation Of Niggy Tardust was Saul Williams’ Purple Rain, then Volcanic Sunlight is his Around The World In A Day. Recorded in his new home in Paris, Williams teams with producer Renaud Letang, to create a sprawling, experimental and joyfully tense album. But make no mistake: times may be crazy, but Saul wants you to dance away your heartache and fears.
The rhythm is juiced up. A lot. There’s the teasing, yet dramatic build up on ‘Look To The Sun’; the march-like drums and soul-claps on ‘Patience’ (with the all too appropriate chrous of ‘It’s getting harder to maintain’); African rhythms that underscore the probing ‘Explain My Heart’; the start and stop thumping of the hopeful ‘Triumph Of Love’; the retro 60’s groove of ‘Give It Up’ and the sly update of the 80’s dance-pop records on ‘Rocket’. ‘Dance’, the lead track from the album, might be Saul’s finest moment on record and he’s had a lot of them. It’s the perfect summation of where he’s been and where he’s headed musically.
Credit: Andrew Gura
Volcanic Sunlight does have a few departures. There’s the electro-punk energy of ‘Girls On Saturn (no wonder – it was co-written with long time collaborator CX KidtroniK); ‘Fall Up’ is Saul getting his Kate Bush on with astonishing effect; the slow brooding ‘Innocence’ and the epic closer, ‘New Day’, which sounds like all of those great anthems that was meant to closer out an album.
With this CD, Saul Williams continues to show extraordinary growth and depth lyrically and musically. It’ll be interesting to see how these songs play out live when Saul gets back to the States for a U.S. tour. Until then, check out Volcanic Sunlight and dance away.