New York composer, producer, and Son Lux guitarist Rafiq Bhatia is reaching for the emotional intensity of avant-garde jazz through sculptural electronic composition on his new album, Breaking English, out today on ANTI- Records.
Bhatia’s audacious first album as a producer seeks to shatter preconceptions about how much can be said without a word, challenging existing musical vocabulary with a language of its own.
Watch the new live video for title track “Breaking English” directed by Anderson Wright HERE and order the album HERE. Described as “a guitarist who refuses to be pinned to one genre, culture or instrument,” by the New York Times, read their feature on Bhatia and “Breaking English” HERE.
Bhatia is the first-generation American son of Muslim immigrant parents who trace their ancestry to India by way of East Africa. Early influences such as Jimi Hendrix, John Coltrane, and Madlib—as well as mentors and collaborators including Vijay Iyer and Billy Hart—prompted him to see music as a way to actively shape and represent his own identity, not limited by anyone else’s prescribed perspective.
In 2014, Bhatia joined Son Lux, a studio-centered project in which producer Ryan Lott used software to warp found sounds into dazzling electronic experiments. Son Lux afforded Bhatia the chance to record with the likes of Lorde and Sufjan Stevens, but, more important, it gave him the support he needed to develop his voice as a producer—the process that ultimately yielded Breaking English.
Throughout the album, Bhatia’s guitar is just one part of a teeming, much bigger picture. Tense violin, exhaled gospel vocals, ricocheting drums and foreboding bass also populate Breaking English, all characters in an enveloping piece of musical cinema.
Bhatia is also eager to bring the hybridity of his ideas to the live stage; He will be performing tracks from Breaking English with Ian Chang of Son Lux on drums and Jackson Hill on bass. All upcoming tour dates are below, including the album’s hometown release show at Brooklyn’s National Sawdust on April 9.
4/9 – New York, NY – National Sawdust – Album Release Show
4/11 – Chicago, IL – SchubasA
4/12 – Indianapolis, IN – IUPUI Masterclass
4/19 – Warsaw, PL – Poglos
4/20 – Berlin, DE – Acud Macht Neu
4/21 – Hamburg, DE – Hafenklang
4/22 – Copenhagen, DK – Ideal Bar
4/26 – Antwerp, BE – deSingel / Bouge B Festival
4/27 – London, UK – Shacklewell Arms
4/28 – Paris, FR – Point Éphémère
4/29 – Metz, FR – 7(7) Café
5/3 – Nyon, CH – LA Parenthèse
5/4 – Luzern, CH - Sedel
5/29 – Los Angeles, CA – The Moroccan Lounge
5/30 – San Francisco, CA – Café Du Nord