There is no overstating how much Eliza Lutz has given to Santa Fe.
Lutz has been a central figure to so many musicians' lives as a tireless promoter, designer, booster and any other role you can think of—but above all else, she is an artist, and with the release of her highly visceral and powerful rock outfit Future Scar's new album Harrow, she's outdone herself in almost every way.
Three years in the making, Harrow is an exploration and product of extreme dynamics, both personal and creative. Lyrically, Lutz explores trauma, the fracturing of the self and concepts of astral projection and, ultimately, healing. Set against a dual color palette (more on that later) and reinforced with Lutz' visual art, the album is a complete multimedia experience that rewards listeners who opt for the physical format.
Harrow's duality is based on Lutz' use of a two-color scheme, which illustrates the two halves of the self. An off-lilac color represents the self we present to others, with pieces missing and, often, secrets of our pain and trauma. The other half, a burnt orange, is for the pieces we remove and from which we disconnect in times of intense pain; Lutz assigned different guitar tunings to each color as well.
The story itself is extremely personal to Lutz and borne of her traumas and healing process. Following Future Scars' debut EP, 2016's Before, There Was Fear, Lutz says she was raped by one of her bandmates. The lineup dissolved, and she wasn't sure she wanted to make music anymore.
"I found myself at a crossroads," Lutz says, "wanting to really give up on this thing that takes so much of you energetically and emotionally, financially and just everything."
She credits Paul Wagner, the band's current bassist, for his role in motivating her to build new relationships with the musicians who play on Harrow.
"There's a kind of trust there that comes from having to be really open about those experiences and inviting people to play music about those experiences," says Lutz.
To rebuild Future Scars, Lutz spearheaded a more robust audition process and pieced together an outfit that not only works together creatively, but is able to openly discuss topics such as abuse and misogyny within the world of music and society at large. The resulting group, she says, strikes a balance between technicality—all of the players are formally educated—and communication.
"They were really great at me saying 'I think this section should be more orange and sound like when you are leaving your body during astral projection in drum form,'" Lutz explains.
From there, former drummer Marcus DiFilippo (who appears on the album but has since left the band and been replaced by Dylan McDowell and who, full disclosure, previously worked for SFR) would work together with Wagner and keyboardist Dylan Blanchard to bring their own styles and sounds into the mix. Lutz also cites producers Kabby Kabakoff and Will Dyar, who recorded and helped guide the recording of Harrow at Kabakoff's Kabby Sound Studios.
The results are stunning, even with songs that run upwards of five minutes, such as the epic showstopper "Whale Song." Along with the other nine tracks, Lutz doesn't waste a note. Even in times of lush arrangement, every sonic touch serves the core premise, and Lutz' powerful, mercurial vocals reach far corners of emotion, from shivering sadness to full-blown roars of triumph. Her inimitable guitar is fully showcased as well with nimble-fingered arpeggios and crushing power chords. The band follows in fine form, with DiFilippo and Wagner's complex rhythmic structures and Blanchard's broad tonal palette and melodies.
The story being told is one of pain, but it's told in such a stirring way that it often feels full of light, even in Lutz' more cutting lyrics, such as in the frank discussion of trauma in album highlight "Dog Star:"
"Part of me leaves so all of me stays intact for later when I'm back in one piece," Lutz sings as Blanchard's prog-rock keys carry her voice along cosmic frequencies through the pain and onto a more ethereal plane.
Such moments are clearly carefully considered and delivered powerfully, the creation of the music deftly mirroring the story within the album. From trauma and dissolution to the reformation of a whole, Future Scars has never sounded stronger or more capable. Pieces of Lutz' past work find their way into Harrow, from the vocal-centric songwriting of GRYGRDNS to the complex and mathy instrumentation of As In We, but this step feels definitive in a way those projects didn't—like the closing chapter of one book and the opening chapter of the next, a confident statement from a crucial voice that should and surely will reach well beyond the boundaries of Santa Fe.
Future Scars Album Release with Prism Bitch and Jessie Deluxe
8pm, Friday August 9, Free.
Second Street Brewery (Rufina Taproom)
2920 Rufina St.,