Look Unto the Heavens
2017 / Scott Lawlor
Review by Kathy Parsons
Look Unto the Heavens is the first of a three-part series of albums composed and released by Scott Lawlor between mid-2017 through May 2018. The series is dedicated to Scott’s brother, Joe, who was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer that had metastasized and later took his life. Look Unto the Heavens is two hours and twenty-two minutes of soothing ambient music that suggests the enveloping peace of the heavens while trying to make sense of this horrifying disease here on earth. Lawlor explains it this way: “when searching for meaning in suffering, when trying to process the unfathomable and you discover that there are more questions than answers, that is when you hear the quiet whispering of strength that is often drowned out by the unrelenting noise of the world.” Lawlor goes on to say that the inspiration for this album came from late night conversations with Joe’s wife about the book of Job during a visit with the family shortly before composing the album.
The ten tracks flow together seamlessly to create a very tranquil atmosphere over the full length of the album. There are subtle variations within each track, but they are mostly ambient sounds layered with occasional instrumental phrasings. While there are feelings of vast space in the music, this doesn’t feel like “space music” to me, as that often feels kind of lost, dark and even frightening. This music is dark, but much of it expresses of warmth, comfort and even reassurance.
The individual tracks range from a bit over six minutes to over an hour, and each has a descriptive title. Read consecutively, they form an interesting message: “Clothe me with skin and flesh and knit me together with bones and sinews. The shady trees cover him with their shadow and behold the clouds which are higher than thou. For he wounds, but he binds up; he shatters, but his hands heal, and our days on earth are but a shadow. For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not cease. Life will be brighter than noonday, and darkness will become like morning, and those who mourn are lifted to safety.” The last track, which runs for more than an hour is the title track of the album.
Look Unto the Heavens is a profound ambient musical work by one of its masters, Scott Lawlor. It is available from Bandcamp. I will be reviewing the other two albums in the series very shortly.
July 9, 2018