Rafiq Bhatia 'Breaking English': 'Building Bridges: Muslims in America

A member of heralded experimental pop trio Son Lux, Rafiq Bhatia — a Raleigh native and the son of Muslim immigrant parents — was recently described by The New York Times as “one of the most intriguing figures in music today.” The guitarist and composer’s 2018 album Breaking English finds a visceral common ground between ecstatic avant-jazz, mournful soul, tangled strings and building-shaking electronics, using surprise and contrast to fuel a meticulous, hybrid style all his own. It’s an enveloping piece of musical cinema, demonstrating just how challenging and exciting Bhatia’s songcraft can be to listeners eager to break free from the predictability of genre or categorization. Bandcamp praised this sui generis full-length as “less about easily-understood messages, and more about the passion it takes to push through the barriers that separate us.” Following a weeklong Building Bridges residency at Duke and in Durham, Bhatia’s trio performs Breaking English at the von der Heyden Studio Theater alongside entrancing visual projections.