February 22, 2011

PEAKING LIGHTS - "936" LP/CD (Not Not Fun)

  Indra Dunis and Aaron Coyes are Peaking Lights.The husband and wife duo have been feeding our eyes and ears with their ever-evolving concoction of minimal psych and dub, for quite a while now.With more than a few handfuls of releases on various US labels in the past few years, they return with a stunning new full length, and have found a new home in L.A. based label -Not Not Fun.An all too perfect fit, in our opinion.

 936 in unlike anything you've heard from PL in the past.Without venturing too far from the reggae-soaked psych jams we love them for, the couple have conjured up a somewhat tame and accessible approach, and their music feels more calculated and focused than ever.Those of us who were taken in by the grainy, minimalist charm of the Imaginary Falcons LP, as well as other early releases, shouldn't let the term "polished" scare you away from this gem.For the lack of a better word, that is exactly what it is.Everything has been somewhat revamped, and the results are epic.Coyes' collection of rewired/circuit bent electronics are the very foundation of Peaking Lights' rhythmic sorcery, holding together the layers of swirling melodies with steady, minimal beats, and rather hypnotic percussive looping.Drum loops have a tendency to either hide just below your music, serving as more of a dull and boring metronome, quietly keeping time, rather than an actual percussive instrument.Coyes' collection of pedals and other manipulative gadgets allow for some serious knob tweaking, which gives these clicks and thumps some character, without drowning out their charming simplicity.The machine drums have been pushed into the foreground a bit, instead of hiding below a sea of tape hiss, feedback and fuzz.

  Dunis' subtle and woozy vocals have been cleaned up and shined a bit, as well.Her voice is as clear and full as we've ever heard it, and her placement remains sparse and minimal, leaving plenty of room for Coyes' keys and guitar tones to dance around freely.The vocals are mostly clean and untreated, but for a bit of delay.Her words are coherent, hazy lullabies about life and love, dreams and dreamers, and the sun, moon, earth and beyond.Peaking Lights have surely reinvented certain elements of their craft, but they haven't changed their sound all that much, as if they had a particular "sound" to begin with.The fuzzy, future-tropicalia and dubbed out psych-pop that was spread throughout Imaginary Falcons and Space Primitive has all but disappeared.936 is chock-full of deep, dubbed-out bass lines, coupled with soulful, low-end organ pulses.Sharp, delayed guitar jabs bounce off in the distance, and create a heady, reggae vibe ala- Lee Scratch Perry.They pull this off quite well, and cleverly incorporate these elements into their sound collage, without sounding cheap or generic.Fans of this group are going to lose their shit over this one, and virgin ears will soon be playing this on repeat for days on end.Fans of Young Marble Giants, Pocahaunted, NOTV, Gang Gang Dance, and Pearl Harbor will hook on this.936 is overflowing with creativity and good vibes, and it just seems to be getting better with each listen.Amazing cover art and insert to boot.

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