Created on Sunday, 19 August 2012 Written by Scott MertensA mystery? By Sola-Mi (Derek Webb, Latifah Phillips, Josh Moore)
Artist: Sola-Mi (Derek Webb, Latifah Phillips, Josh Moore)
Release Date: June 5, 2012
Duration: 9 tracks, 27:19
Unique and unusual combinations often fail, sometimes blossom into something new. When the later occur the outcome is occasionally unusually beautiful. Such is the case with Nexus, the offspring of three unique and unusual Nashville talents. Derek Webb (a unique artist of CCM background and past Caedmon’s Call band member known for pushing the limits of his genre), Josh Moore (composer, producer, past member of Caedmon’s Call among other bands), and Latifah Phillips (lead singer of The Autumn Film and Page CXVI) have joined their considerable talents to provide this offering known as Nexus, a presumed soundtrack to a movie of the same name, under the band name of Sola-Mi.
Under much speculation, many have reported that the movie Nexus and band name of Sola-Mi are fronts for a new and different musical offering. The mystery surrounding both Nexus the movie and Sola-Mi the band has been bantered about on the web. Indeed, finding anything on the movie Nexusby Solomon Mentes or any information on Solomon Mentes are difficult and shady at best. Interestingly, when broken down:
- Solomon – a son of David, 10th century B.C. king of Israel, proverbial for his wisdom, Solominian – wise or reasonable in character
- Mentes - Latin, a mind, is the complex of cognitive faculties that enables consciousness, thinking, reasoning, perception, and judgment - a characteristic of human beings, but which also may apply to other life forms.
- Sola-mi – Sola - by oneself; alone. Mi – Latin- my| mine the 3d tone of the diatonic scale in solmization – origin, Medieval Latin, from the syllable sung to this note in a medieval hymn to St. John the Baptist.
- Nexus - a means of connection; tie; link, a connected series or group, the core or center, as of a matter or situation.
Just to add to the chaos of speculation, we might introduce the thought that:
- Solomon Mentes refers to a wise and reasonable mind
- Solo-Mi refers to one being alone / lonely
- Nexus refers linking Solomon Mentes and Solo-Mi together.
After carefully listening to the message in back of the song collection, a story connects this inference of man’s mind growing to the point of loneliness due to losing individuality and breaking out to the freedom each of us serves as a unique and loving individual.
Similar in feel and sensation to Metropolis, the 1927 German expressionist science-fiction film directed by Fritz Lang, Nexus creates a mental image of the future where human kind has been reduced to emotionless, robotic-like meanderings and loss of individualism. In total, the composition provides an example where the person breaks out of the common mold to find their individualism.
Sequentially, each component of this collection builds the story of the lonely, disenfranchised human condition brought on by technology and its impact on community. Beginning with “Keynote,” a vocal sampling of old and new science narrative regarding artificial intelligence ending in a cacophony of like voices, the stage is set. “Mother Mother” questions this reality, opening with solid percussion encasing a melody much like a Cirque du Solei song. The listener will immediately give notice to terrific vocals by Phillips.
In three parts, “The Naming” continues this thought of the hollowness creating robotic-like perfection in artificial intelligence. The instrumental musically colors:
“Degustation” (the action or an instance of tasting especially in a series of small portions)
with fast pace electronic samplings:
“Certificate” (certified for selection) with paced instrumentation
“Selection” (act of being selected) a focused, slower paced contribution
Phillips vocals again stand up on “Crowd Of Silent Strangers” telling a story of emptiness with "meaningless, this meaning is so meaningless, feelingless, this feeling is so meaningless without you." Her soft, easily digested vocals are underlined by fuzzed electronica in background setting an emotional plateau. This emotion continues with “The Blessing Of Being Bloodless” with like vocals, "…apocryphal world without end…" picturing vague remembrances of human kind.
Hope begins its glimmer at the end of the tunnel with “Trust Falling” depicting the journey from robotic like existence back to human joy with “I am letting go of everything, I am opening my mouth to sing, to the space, till I will till this place, I am in awe." Finally, “Silver Grizzly” explodes with the feeling of being uniquely alive, awake and full of life.
Nexus bravely explores new musical ground with resounding success provoking new and powerful emotions through song. The combination of talent and melding of direction is truly worth a listen or two or many. Like Pink Floyd before it, please listen to the whole album in headphones without distraction, it is worth the time spent to hear the entire offering. Rumor has it that Sola-Mi will open for Derek Web this fall during his CTRL tour for his album of the same name – check it out!
So, the question remains! Is this really a soundtrack to movie? Is there really a movie? Is there really a Solomon Mentes? Interestingly, I had the opportunity to interview both Derek Webb and his wife Sandra McCracken prior to one of their summer concerts this year (see my related interview in this edition of Phantom Tollbooth). When I mentioned Sola-Mi and Nexus along with the mystery and stirrings of the web they both made immediate eye contact sharing wry smiles. Could there be something to my speculation!
Scott S Mertens
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