Music is powerful. It can be hateful or hopeful; it can send messages in ways other mediums cannot. It can both pick you up and put you down, sometimes just within a few bars. It all depends on who is at the helm, the person or person’s creating the music, setting the mood, creating the feeling. In the case of New York’s Light Warriors, the captain of this vessel is multi-instrumentalist Erik Rabasca. His idea for Light Warriors reads like a manifesto, or a call to arms for positivity in a world whose major news outlets bait their hooks with stories of depravity and despair and bring in a miraculous catch of fish. Light Warriors was born out Rabasca’s idea that “In today's onslaught of negative information and soul destruction, we need a warrior mentality to remain positive.”
Rabasca’s debut record under the Light Warriors moniker Survival of Joy is an amalgamation of musical styles ranging from dub reggae to dream pop, from folk to jazz, and even delves into the realm of experimentation. There is often a caveat that when a singer or a band flies a banner for a cause that the music they make often ends up coming out as preachy and generally a bit flabby because all they are focused on is getting their message across. Light Warriors doesn’t let that happen. Rabasca doesn’t sing from a soapbox, but rather from the same even ground on which we all stand. His lyrics are not preachy; they’re astute observations put into words by a man who’s obviously given a lot of thought to the world going on around him.
The spritely acoustic and steely percussion feel of the opening track “The Devils Angels” is reminiscent of Paul Simon’s epic Graceland, and its beautiful melody draws you in as it changes course like feather falling from the sky. In stark contrast “Truth Exists in the Moment” takes a slightly dark turn and sounds at times like a jam session between Earth Wind and Fire and Jethro Tull. This leads into the spacey reggae-rock “Times are Hard.”
What Rabasca is able to do so well, and part of what makes Survival of Joy so good, is that he is able to intone with a subdued yet still powerful ferocity, the message of hope which is woven into each one of his songs. He does this even on the lighter fare on Survival of Joy like on the somberly triumphant “Outrage” and in the vein of dreamy pop on “Step into the Free.” But he saves the best for last and turns the final song “So Goes the Story” into a gloriously positive rock-fueled closing anthem.
On Survival of Joy Erik Rabasca has seamlessly welded together a plethora of genres and has shown all of which serve the record like musical metaphors which helps to further his acutely powerful messages of peace, love and hope.
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