Posts Tagged ‘dub’

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.

Luke Hess – Light in the Dark

June 12, 2009

luke hess

Luke Hess has just released his proper debut “Light in the Dark” on the fantastic Echochord imprint. Having cut his teeth in Detroit and refined his sound over the last few years working with the likes of Omar-S and other emerging dub techno producers, Hess’ debut pays homage to the Detroit minimalism of Theorem and Plastikman and Basic Channel’s deep techno of the late 90’s. And although at times some tracks sound eerily close to the artists he’s paying respect to, overall I think the album totally works.

This is 4/4 techno that is dance-floor oriented, but it’s also heady and reflective. It almost feels as if Hess is trying to recreate the glory days of Detroit techno, before DEMF, when sketchy warehouse parties and the City Club were the places to go to drop pills and sweat and dance and just lose it to the craziest, darkest, bass-heavy, four on the floor techno you ever heard. And unfortunately, I think this is where the album falters. It doesn’t go far enough. Yes, the production is crisp and technically some of the finest dub techno I’ve heard since “The Coldest Season”, but by looking so deeply into the past, Hess never really moves his sound forward. If anything “Light in the Dark” reveals his potential, an artist with skill and style, but one who still needs to carve out his own niche, and continue to refine his own sound.

Luke Hess is one to watch out for in the coming years, and his debut album is definitely worth checking out. Peace.

Edit: Also check out the Ignite the Dark Remixes (Mikkel Metal, cv313, and Marko Furstenberg). Dynomite!