The word that comes up most often when listening to “So I Can See You,” the first album by TONE, Basil Anthony Harewood’s stage name, released this year on Rhythm Section International, is transformative. Connected to the CURL collective where Mica Levi and Coby Sey militate (both collaborate directly or indirectly on the album), Harewood builds a series of familiar sounds with a voice of his own. The transformative comes with the idea of limbo that he leaves to navigate in each guitar riff, each laid-back beat or in the honeyed cadence of his voice, where things sound like somewhere else and simultaneously seem to exist in an informal body, subject to adapting this to something new. Music that lives in the moment, that gives memories of reggae, R&B, soul, calypso, as well as dubstep and, unexpectedly, shoegaze.
The sum of all these parts gives a singular sound to TONE and its songs formatted for singles, in an album where everything is earwormy and grows beyond first impressions. The title track, for example, with Coby Sey’s collaboration sounds like ska suitable for an indie movie soundtrack, with magnetic vocal work in an overlapping ping pong between Harewood and Sey. The way “So I Can See You,” the song, performs breathes the best of what is in Tone’s music, a singular ability to channel familiar melodies into something new that informs from Afro-Caribbean and British origins. Through the constant haze, or nostalgia, of his themes, it is easy to think of Tone’s songs as a new stage in the British hauntology circuit, focused on another kind of spectrum and sonic exploration: in some of his themes it is possible to discern the discovery of a formula for turning the ideas behind hauntology into songs. So it’s back to the transformative, the music that TONE creates resonates with a familiar place but doesn’t seem to belong to a fixed place. It remains to be enjoyed, to be discovered. AS