It’s hard not to rely on plant metaphors when considering the lush choreography of LONER’s new single “Bioluminescent,” but references to organic textures and slowly blooming melodies can only do so much for a track which is rooted (oops) in cosmic mystery and spiritual longing. The atmospheric funk which powers the song is reminiscent of Herbie Hancock’s work with Kimiko Kasai, though “Bioluminescent” owes its sounds to a more typical collection of lounge instruments rather than mountains of synthesizers.
To understand the sense of freedom intrinsic to the track’s insistent groove, it’s important to understand singer and songwriter Joshua Loner’s philosophy of writing, in particular their discomfort with the idea of finished tracks. “Songs are living organisms that are dynamic, fluid, and malleable,” Loner explains. “They need to be cared for over time, allowed to grow and change.” It’s this perspective which plays out in the details of “Bioluminescent.” From Carolyn Reis’ subtle flute work to Kassle Molinar’s ascendant saxophone jams, it’s evident the band as a whole is committed to these lofty ideals.
When constructing their forthcoming debut, In the Tides of Time, Loner pulled some ideas from their back catalog, but in its current state “Bioluminescent” and the whole of the record reflect a more communal affair. Though they expected most of the material to lean towards rock compositions, what emerged was inflected with the spontaneity of jazz fusion. The results were at least in part influenced by the songwriter’s dissatisfaction with what they refer to as the “masculine edge” of rock music, but also driven by the collaborative effort of the band as a whole.
“There were nights when we would alter the compositions right before going onstage,” says Loner. “The basic frameworks would still be intact, but we’d throw a spoken word section here, extend this instrumental section, cut that verse, hit the second chorus quieter, add an intro to this song, syncopate the outro.”
This openness to change is portrayed in one of the key facets of “Bioluminescent” — the delicate, pulsing balance between vocalists Shae Edman and Loner. Edman sings with a sparkling mix of passion and grace, delivering each climactic note as a guiding beacon. Throughout the track these crescendos illuminate Loner’s dense lyrics and guide the track towards a mysterious destination without reducing it to four minutes of buildup.
In the Tides of Time will be released on July 21 via the group’s performance event, Celesthesia: A Space Noir Opera, in tandem with a comic series of the same name. The show, which according to Loner, will allow “people to truly feel like they are on a different planet, even when they step outside for a smoke,” reinforces the fact that “Bioluminescent” is only a chapter in a story, a glimpse of something greater (we’ll have more on that soon). Still, even apart from the pomp and circumstance inherent to an intergalactic gala, the song is an detailed snapshot of LONER’s cosmic energy and the profound ambition which make them a band to watch in the coming months.
LONER will celebrate the release of In the Tides of Time on Fri., July 21 at Celesthesia: A Space Noir Opera at the Mammal Gallery. Sequoyah Murray, Oshwa, and MonteQarlo will also perform. Doors open at 9 p.m. Admission is $10. All ages.