Friday, 25 February 2011
RECOMMENDED: Peaking Lights - 936 [Not Not Fun]
Eagle Rock, LA based label Not Not Fun has been producing the goods for well over a year now with nare a single mistep in its release schedule. Run by Britt and Amanda Brown NNF has been a focal point for heavy lidded lowest-of-the-lo-fi straight to tape bejewelled, silk-screened rumbling and mumblings since 2004, but in the last couple of years has been ramping its output up into the stars with an accelerating trajectory of future household names that has included Abe Vigoda, Ducktails, High Wolf, Matrix Metals, Sun Araw, Dylan Ettinger, Magic Lantern and of course, a lotta Pocahaunted. Now they have released the second full length 12” from Peaking Lights, the similarly wedded couple Aaron Coyes and Indra Dunis (formerly of the propulsive angular guitar band Numbers). 936 is a release set to blaze this band's name into the firmament.
After a couple of split singles they released their first full album Imaginary Falcons back in 2009 through both Night People and Not Not Fun to some seriously wowed acclaim. In 2010 they released a split with Wet Hair on NNF's Bored Fortress 7” series and then the Space Primitive cassette on Night People and again on 12” through NNF. All their releases so far have involved fantastically spun out psychedelic embraces of themes, woven through spatial enhancers, psychotropic distorters, emotional compression, circuit bent trinkets and charmingly weathered keyboards that belong from within the realms of the junk-rock circuit, but none have quite hinted at the full potential realised in this release.
A mossy collage of root-bound tape-loop drone opens the album, offering a sense of intuitive awakening from the sleep since Imaginary Falcons, that tips the listener gently into the album itself with 'All The Sun That Shines.' The lead track released several weeks ago with the crate-digging collage video by Amanda Brown lays a big hook into the listener with a fat island bassline that throbs through its core, marking this out as a different entity to their former work. Comparisons to Amanda Brown's final album with (the NNF supergroup incarnation of) Pocahaunted are easy to make with the distinct dub and reggae influence a common thread amongst much recent NNF releases, but Peaking Lights are the band to have incorporated the most essential essences of dub experimentation cast from the desk of the Black Ark, ingesting and regurgitating them instinctively into the noise-band psych-folk of the West Coast US.
Long slow moving King Tubby basslines appear on several tracks, providing ample cushioning for the raft of cosmic effects and reverbed chords to flutter off into haunting repetitions of increasing opaqueness, snatches of circuit bending burst apart and melt back into the ether in increasingly deep and psychedelic successions. The suitably epic closer 'Summertime,' heralds what sounds like it could collapse into a huge speaker destroying wobble, then settles into a malleable pulse, Indra's cool vocals smoothing over what could sound demented without her presence. Joined by a lead melody tone that is both chilling and uplifting her vocal loop ushers in a host of glitchy rattling and humming opening a portal through which exotic otherworldy entities spill through.
The third track is potentially the highlight, dealing in the most sensual sonic experimentation of the record; the bobbing bottom end of 'Amazing and Wonderful' is sprinkled with soft feedback ringing out in fading ripples of delay, echo heavy guitar vibrations and an intimate tapestry of muted arpeggios descend down melody lines that cross each other like dancing lovers. What made Imaginary Falcons such a warming and beatific experience is blushed through this one track, and it's soporific euphoria that transcends all that came before it.
This album is one long slow, sustained process of sensual enlightenment. There's a total awareness of which sonic textures best nurture each other, with noises offering more in the way of melody and musicality than just surface aesthetics the relationships each element of the mix has to one another, of the space each incorporates, the dynamics that can be achieved by the anticipation of sound in the silence. This is elevated, intimate music making that may never appear from the hands and minds of another artist. This incarnation of Peaking Lights exists on another creative plane of being, like star crossed lovers set adrift on hypnagogic bliss.