Archive for July, 2011

Peaking Lights – 936 (Not Not Fun)

July 15, 2011

For Juno Records

Hailing from Madison, Wisconsin, husband and wife duo, Peaking Lights, make sun-speckled dub pop psychedelia. The premise is simple: deep repetitive bass, catchy drum loops, extended grooves, and ethereal vocals that also work on repetition and cavernous echo. The result: a perfectly blissed-out album for the summer months, one that will linger in your head long after the album’s played out.

Since the duo spent some time in California and record on the intriguing Not Not Fun label, an immediate comparison can be to fellow labelmate Sun Araw, who operates in the same hypnotic manner, but while “936” leans heavily on reggae and dub influence for groove, it also pays homage to lo-fi psychedelic rock, and even though the tracks on “936” are deep and sludgy, they still manage to feel open and airy. The songs wander, joyfully going nowhere in particular for up eight minutes, and you’ll be right there with them, bobbing your head and grinning.

Take “Tiger Eyes (Laid Back)” for example. Aaron Coyes drops a simple drumbeat, anchors it with a deep bassline for riddim, and tosses in some light guitars, while Indra Dunis provides some haunting, trance-induced vocals and gentle bursts of keyboard. It’s a serene eight minute head-nodder, perfect for afternoon drives down scenic highways — where you’re sitting in shotgun and the windows are down and you’ve got your feet up on the dash, and an arm out the window fighting the wind — and you’re smiling, looking over at your friend driving — he’s wearing a pair of old Ray Bans, and he’s playing the steering wheel like a drum, and honking the horn in time to the beat, while he points out useless historical landmarks along the side of the sun-drenched road as you zip by…

While not too far away compositionally from many dub techno artists like Rhythm and Sound or Deadbeat, Peaking Lights style diverges, because instead of going inward they go out – it’s still heady music, but as their name implies, they take the listener up up up, floating in a headspace above the clouds and the mountain peaks, a place where just enough light and warmth peeks through to make you smile. With “936”, Peaking Lights creates groovy yet subtly romantic music that allows the listener to cheerfully zone out, whilst also playing with the notion of summer nostalgia, and the result is surprisingly radiant. Check it.

It’s been awhile…

July 12, 2011

Hello friends. I am back. And ready to start writing about music again forthwith. My apologies for lack of posts as of late. It’s been a busy 2011. I graduated from teacher’s college at the University of Toronto in April and then went to India for six weeks and then British Columbia for two. India was the greatest experience of my life and BC wasn’t too shabby either. Now I’m back in Toronto enjoying the summer heat and all the fun the season brings. Here’s a couple of photos for ya.

Cliche snake charmer in Varanasi

Kolkata at 5 in the morning (the first picture i took in India)

Rickshaw driver taking an afternooner in Pushkar

The amazing village of Lolay in the Himalayan foothills

Music reviews to follow. Peace. ml.