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“Look Behind”

This Toronto collective, which revolves around Bengali singer Rosina Kazi, Barbados-born life partner/producer Nicholas Murray, and Uganda-born bassist Ian De Souza, sounds like the sum of its core components, which ultimately means it doesn’t sound like any of them. Indeed, we could refer to this at once expansive and concise three-minute tune as “world music.” We would, of course, be talking about LAL’s world. (From LAL) - Toronto Star

“We played in Dehli, Goa, Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata, and Dhaka, Bangladesh,” says Rosina Kazi, of a recent tour. Along with musical partner Nicholas Murray, Rosina forms the creative core of the group Lal. She excitedly lists the different people and experiences that shaped the trip: “We hung out with musicians, Bauls/Sadhus (spiritual artists and holy people of West Bengal), hip hop to reggae djs, street dancers, to activists, academics and students. We even played for the community in Dharavi, the biggest slum in Mumbai!” For Nicholas and the Toronto-based Lal, these travel experiences add to the eclectic mix that forms the group’s sound.

In both recordings and performances, Lal looks backward and forward, incorporating traditional sounds, while processing and manipulating their music electronically. Nicholas alludes to using older, discarded and second-hand electronic instruments in crafting Lal’s sound: “Lots of cheap reverb boxes and guitar pedals go into everything I do” he says. At the same time, the group embrace futuristic technology like Yamaha’s Tenori-On and Ableton Live.

“Coming from a very post-production aesthetic, Live allows us to manipulate the sounds that were played on the album,” says Nicholas. “New rhythmic and tonal qualities are discovered within Ableton Live from pre-recorded material.” In processing and creating new sounds, Nicholas turns to Live’s instruments and effects. Corpus is a particular favorite for generating resonances from his samples

- Ableton Live

By Daniel SylvesterThe fact that three kids from Canada chose to buck the all-encompassing rock and hip-hop trends to craft introspective world music should tell you something about Lal's level of sophistication. The trio's fourth proper release deserves the often-misused descriptor of "genre-hopping," as Nicholas "Murr" Murray's steely electronics work organically alongside Ian de Sousa's gaping West coast funk groove and Rosina Kazi's fearless, contained vocals. On tracks like "Red Room" and "Live Your Light," Kazi's delivery is closer aligned with Sade's country and western fascinations than her Toronto chanteuse peers. The glossy production of "Bunch of Maybes" and album closer "I Know Your Face" manage to pull off that rare feat of sounding fashionable and forward-thinking without being "of the moment" or yearningly insecure. Lal's self-titled LP doesn't break down barriers as much as it simply ignores them. This is a Canadian-sounding release from an outfit uninterested in such narrow descriptors.
(Urbnet) - Exclaiim

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

"... genuinely moving. "
The Montreal Gazette - T'cha Dunlevy Thursday June 19, 2008
- Montreal Gazette

"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


lal 2012
Deportaton 2008
Warm Belly, High Power 2004
Corners 2000
Brown Eyed Warrior 12inch
Corners 12 inch



Darren O’Donnell artist/playwright


Formed in 1998 by the dynamic duo of 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, then joined later by bassist and walking guru Uganda-born Ian De Souza, LAL always proved hard to describe. Their musical experience is wide with Murr having been a member of the seminal hip hop collective, da Grass Roots and designed sound for theatre and film and Ian playing with the Euclid Sisters, the Toronto Tabla Ensemble, and steel-pan player Robbie Greenwich, to name only a few. They’re a band, but not only a band - they're a music making magical mushroom, the visible flowering part of a much larger organism, connected with very fine but infinitely resilient roots.

We can talk about LAL’s music using words that eventually abandon us: electronica, trip-hop (remember that?), electronic soul, jazz, pop, protest music, justice jams, downtempo beats, lounge, funk, world, multcult, etc etc. Or we can talk about HOW they make music, How they live their lives, how they run their music-making firm and how the line we draw around LAL, delineating these three accomplished and passionate musicians is just not accurate. LAL is the flowering fruit of a complex network of microscopic filaments, these roots also belonging to other firms and organizations: incisive and relentless activist like No One is Illegal, ethical community based businesses like The Toronto Woman's Bookstore or my performance company Mammalian Diving Reflex. We are one, huge, justice-hungry organism, a world-wide team of individuals, groups, organizations, companies, firms, NGOs, businesses, researchers, activists, philosophers and artists.
LAL takes the long view, they’re in it for the long haul, obsessed with making music but more obsessed with using the making of music as a way to materialize ways of being together, fostering a sharing of resources, ideas and, at bottom, maintaining a tenacious hope that persists despite the frightening world we live in. Nestled amongst the big corporations are a multiplicity of small producers - imagine clusters of beautiful mushrooms growing on piles of shit, their thread-like roots so very fine, but sometimes stretching unseen for miles, one in Oregon clocking in at 2,400 acres, thought to be the biggest organism in the world. Again, LAL is a mushroom, a magical one.??