On a late summer evening in London, with the sun slowly setting in the distance, I place my headphones on, and press play on Theon Cross’ Intra-I. The unsettling tuba-led soundscape murmurs throughout this project, echoing the dynamic, overwhelming, and often aggressive vibe of the big city, but within it all, there is life and a yearning for acceptance and belonging. Exploring one’s roots and culture are central themes to this body of work, as Theon Cross is able to effortlessly combine spiritual jazz with hard-hitting grime and dub instrumentals, creating an eclectic soundscape throughout.
The rhythms and grooves of tracks like “Trust the Journey” and “40Tude” perfectly capture the dynamic, organic and horn-led compositions that I’ve come to love from the talented tuba maestro. His mesmeric, grumbling compositions are just incredible, and the infectious beats throughout the entire project make this such an engaging listen. The more frantic, gruelling and bass-heavy moments on the album showcase the extent of Theon Cross’ talents as a composer and artist. “Roots” featuring Shumba Maasai and “Play to Win” featuring Consensus are examples of that incredibly loud and striking sound that I’ve grown to love about his artistry. There’s a balance here, with more melodic and subdued moments coexisting with more atmospheric ones. The emotive dub of “Forward Progression II” is a tribute to his father, while the closer “Universal Alignment” featuring Oren Marshall is this tribal, minimalistic tuba-led record that just continues to drive along until the final second.
There’s so much density and intricacy within these compositions. Theon Cross brings to life his musical ideas over an important album that seeks to find solace in self-love and identity, whilst also showcasing his incredible musicianship over 10 tracks and 36 minutes of pure incredible music.