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"Light of Day Live Performance"

Nic Murr & Rosina Kazi performing Light of Day live at The Garrison in Toronto, January 21, 2011. - Andreea M


"White Cloud Intellect - Video"

This is a video for the song 'White Cloud Intellect' - Rob P


"Corners Video"

This is a video for the song Corners - Rob P


"Wasteland Video"

This is a video for the song Wasteland - David Fernandez


"Erase Me Video"

This is a video for the song Erase Me - Thrill Media


"Brown Eyed Warrior Video"

This is an indie video for the song brown eyed warrior - by Jeff Bai


"Extended Play"

In music, as in life, a decade is a significant period of time. After 10 years devoted to any particular project, one tends to reflect on results — on highs, lows and lessons learned.

As they turn 10 and release their third album, Deportation, Toronto’s LAL have much to consider and celebrate. Since forming in 1998 when producer Nicholas “Murr” Murray decided he wanted to work with vocalists and “go outside of the regular boom-bap hip-hop thing” he was known for as a member of Da Grassroots, and singer Rosina Kazi had “really started to discover my voice,” the band have covered a great deal of ground — musically, politically and literally.

LAL’s two previous albums, 2002’s Corners and 2004’s Warm Belly High Power, were much praised for their amalgam of downtempo, soul, hip-hop and jazz as well as South Asian instrumentation and influences. The band have performed and toured extensively — even opening for folk/jazz great Terry Callier at London’s revered Jazz Café in 2006 — and have numerous awards to show for their efforts.

And now, LAL have made the strongest, richest and most developed album of their career. With its adventurous arrangements, warm melodies and tight production, Deportation is the product of a band who are comfortable in their collective skin. Through years of swelling and diminishing in numbers, LAL has now evolved into a core songwriting trio that now includes bassist Ian de Souza. His versatility and jazz influences clearly add much to the group.

“Playing with Ian is profoundly amazing because he comes from a completely different scene than we do and we’ve been able to learn so much about being musicians through him,” Kazi says. “We always wondered why Ian played with us, but now we know.”

She chuckles, but it’s clear that the trio have a common understanding that lent itself beautifully to the recording of Deportation. Though it’s LAL’s most complex album to date, it’s also their most relaxed and fluent.

“A lot of what we recorded for Deportation was done together in the studio; there’s very little editing involved in this record,” Murray explains.

“A lot of the end results were basically about me renting keyboards and synths from Paul’s Boutique, and us hanging out with Ian over a bottle of wine at our place while working. A lot of it was also people just dropping by, doing their part, and us keeping those recordings as they were. It’s very different than the editing fiasco of Warm Belly, High Power where we took the Pink Floyd approach of moving tracks and parts around.”

The new album — which had its genesis in the three-month period Murray and Kazi spent living and soaking up influences while crashing and creating at friends’ places in London, England during the winter of 2005-06 — features the contributions of more than 20 guests. The impressive array of performers includes LAL’s long-time touring percussionist Rakesh Tewari, friend and PTR label boss Moonstarr, guitarist Nilan Perera, horn player Bryden Baird, and vocalists such as Zaki Ibrahim and Shawn Hewitt.

Like the members of LAL, most of these guests share a commitment to art, community and social change. LAL is rooted in this understanding, and their work has always been explicitly political.
“Being in London and seeing all of the surveillance cameras that were put up, and how people were being treated, the classism and racism there, influenced this record so much, as well as having two friends deported from Canada,” says Kazi.

“You know,” she continues, “coming from a background of listening to house music, techno and hip-hop, there was always social commentary. Honestly, I’m really disappointed with current dance music because the production value has gone down, and where is the content? It was always so inspiring to dance to a tune that said something and I think we’re trying to carry that heritage along.”
This may come as a surprise to anyone who has heard LAL’s CDs, but not seen their live show. On stage, they raise the tempos and take each song somewhere new.

“You can’t sell beer at a bar unless people are dancing, right?” Murray quips.

“Really, we don’t even try to recreate the albums,” de Souza adds. “It’s more about taking the mood of a particular piece and morphing it. In a way, having to reinvent the wheel for whatever gig we’re doing has become the addiction for me. It’s amazing because it stops a song from becoming a museum piece.” EMAIL DBENSON@EYEWEEKLY.COM
- Eye Magazine


"Now Article"

Eclectic electro
Toronto trio LAL thrive on diversity
By Jordan Bimm

Toronto-based soul-tech veterans LAL consistently work outside conventional borders. Recently, the trio wrote and recorded in London, England, performed at the World Per­forming Arts Festival in Lahore, Pakistan, and played a picturesque beachside gig in Goa, India.

Now back in Toronto, they continue to defy borders on their new rec­ord, Deportation (Public Transit), both by bridging musical genres and by raising important issues of immigration and citizenship.

Vocalist Rosina Kazi began conceptualizing this record right after 9/11. At its thematic centre are “peo­ple’s stories of migration and movement,” she says.

Despite the common theme, the band hesitates to call Deportation a concept album. “It’s really just a collection of stories told from different perspectives,” says bassist Ian de Souza.

“We actually know people who have been deported,” says Kazi, “so it’s a very personal record for us.” She is quick to recount the plight of her good friend Queen Nzinga (aka Wendy Maxwell), an undocumented immigrant working as a CKLN radio programmer who was deported to Costa Rica in 2005.

“It’s like this big secret,” says Kazi. “People don’t really see that hidden world of immigration and deportation unless it happens to them, and I think it happens much more often than people realize.”

While the record (the band’s third full-length in 10 years) has been a long time in the making (LAL’s laptop whiz and producer Nicholas Murray remembers doing some of the first recordings back in 2005), it’s not for lack of vision or writer’s block. Deportation is a thoughtful, deep and complex combination of electro, jazz, soul, hip-hop and spoken word, and, as Murray points out, “making things like this just takes some time.”

In addition to writing and recording the album’s 15 tracks, LAL also spent time enlisting friends to contribute a diverse array of creative skills. In all, some 20 guest musicians (and two dancers, whose recorded footwork is featured as percussion) appear on the record, including Zaki Ibrahim, Shawn Hewitt and Stop Die Resuscitate’s Lucas Costello.

“People who are into all kinds of music will really appreciate our sound,” says de Souza of the band’s international appeal. “But people who are only into one style of music will probably only get parts of the record.”

The trade-off LAL make for their un­abashedly eclectic sound is that they become nearly impossible to categorize.

“The music industry has done such a good job – which I consider a bad job – of promoting one sound and one look. The idea of diversity is becoming less celebrated,” laments Kazi.

“I don’t think people in the music industry really know what to do with a band like us,” she adds.

Fortunately, LAL can get along just fine without much support from the mainstream. With the backing of their indie label, Public Transport, and activist group No One Is Illegal, the band is set to tour Ontario and the West Coast this summer, while looking ahead to more European dates in the fall.
music@nowtoronto.com - Now Magazine


"Giant Step"

More than four years since they first dropped their debut album and underground hit "Corners," 2005 sees LAL take the production up a notch. 'Warm Belly, High Power' is an emotive, personal journey with roots planted firmly in South Asia and branches stretching to hip hop, soul and beyond.

The album was conceived by LAL members Rosina Kazi and Nick Murray, as a musical journey through the changing seasons. From the album opener through to the final track, 'Warm Belly, High Power' sees LAL find a fuller and more ambient live sound thanks to musicians Rakesh Tewari, Nilan Pereira, Santosh Naidu and Ian De Souza.

LAL first came on the scene in 1998 with the inclusion of their “Last Stop” on the Metropass EP (PTR1201). By 2000, LAL had released their first full-length CD, the gritty, critically-acclaimed Corners. Establishing the duo as favourites of the Toronto urban and downtempo scene, LAL has continued to grow and evolve – with a full live band that has opened up for such diverse artists as Terry Callier (Jazz Café London), Nelly Furtado, Roy Ayers, Digable Planets and State of Bengal. Their unique sounds have also been recently remixed by the likes of Nick Holder, Moonstarr, Nu Era (4 Hero) and Abacus.

The music of LAL represents the cross-cultural Canadian experience, drawing from South Asian, West Indian, and Latin and African communities “with a deep commitment to social justice.” According to lead singer Rosina, LAL is “the new Canadian sound represented by first generation from immigrant experiences, heavily influenced by European and North American culture.”

Much has been made of the unique working and romantic relationship between lead vocalist Rosina and producer Nick through the years. Though their musical partnership goes back five years, Rosina and Nick have been together for twice that long and it shows in the music they make. As their music continued to evolve, Rose and Nick have worked together to get the sound that they were looking for.

Moving on from the gritty hip hop groove of 'Corners' into the realm of blissed-out next-generation soul of 'Warm Belly, High Power,' LAL has a lot riding on their second full-length. To their growing fan base in Toronto and around the world, LAL says that their record is “more focused, closer to the LAL sound – and it should provide greater rewards to those that open up their ears.” - Giant Step


"Bust Review"

"Once Warm Belly High Power, the second release from Canadian outfit LAL, makes it to your CD Player, its going to be difficult to remove. Rosina Kazi’s heady vocals bring down-tempo to a sublime breaking point in the headphones." — Bust Magazine - Bust Magazine


"XLR8R Review"

"From Toronto, LAL's downtempo beats are divided on this album into seaons: fall, winter, spring, summer. Summer vocals and layered transglobal instrumentation add to the mystique. " 
- XLR8R Magazine - XLR8R


"Globe Reivew"

 "It's quite a trick to set challenging political messages to music that wouldn't be amiss in a dimly lit lounge, but it's one LAL is close to mastering. "
The Globe and Mail - Li Robbins - June 17, 2008 - Globe and Mail


"Xpress Review"

"It really is a privilege for Canadians that a group like LAL exists."
XPRESS - Cormac Rea - May 22, 2008 - Xpress


"Exclaim Review"

"The benefits of a decade’s worth of genuine connections are revealed in spades on Deportation, Lal’s third and most inspired disc to date. The record sees the group’s long established tight moods are carried to new heights by an expansive pallet of relatively disparate sonic ingredients, from kathak and flamenco foot taps, Wurlitzer tones and Portuguese vocals, to the subtle shades of horns and cellos. The varied influences unite to deliver a decidedly intimate listen and offer a somewhat cinematic touch to the migrant issues that occupy Kazi’s lyrical tales, issues that are becoming more and more prevalent in Canadian news and politics these days."
-Exclaim! - Kevin Jones - June 2008 - Exclaim!


"Toronto Star Review"

"Sound-wise, Deportation is as compelling as its subject matter. "
- The Toronto Star - Ben Rayner - May 22, 2008  - Toronto Star


"Eye Magaine Review"


"And now, LAL have made the strongest, richest and most developed album of their career. With its adventurous arrangements, warm melodies and tight production, Deportation is the product of a band who are comfortable in their collective skin."
 - EYE Weekly - Denise Benson - May 21, 2008 - Eye Magazine


Discography

Corners Full-Length 2000
Warm Belly, High Power 2004
Deporatation 2008
LAL Self-titled 20112

Photos

Bio

LAL is a band, but not only a band - they are a music making magical mushroom, the visible flowering part of a much larger organism, connected with very fine but infinitely resilient roots.

They are the flowering fruit of a complex network of microscopic filaments, these roots also belonging and are connected to other firms and organizations; incisive and relentless activists, ethical community based businesses and performance companies.

They are a huge, justice-hungry organism. A world-wide team of individuals, groups, organizations, companies, firms, NGOs, businesses, researchers, activists, philosophers and artists. Those who are determined to give a shit.

The music of LAL is made by poet, lyricist, activist, singer and Bengali-rooted tough-guy Rosina Kazi and her life partner, producer, sound designer, philosopher, aphorismist and Barbados-born king of chill, Nicholas Murray, joined by bassist and walking guru Uganda-born Ian De Souza.