May 9, 2011

Names I have heard used to describe Peaking Lights’ music: post-reggae, dub, and groove wave. None of them particularly do the Madison-based married couple justice, but all are accurate to a degree. Released on Los Angeles experimental pop haven, Not Not Fun, 936 fits into the lineage established by labelmates Sun Araw and Pocahaunted: psychedelic music for the new era, more atmospheric than acid-addled.

The guitar lines don’t soar, they shake. The keyboard colors fade and reanimate like chameleons, with inexorable slowness and unusual subtlety. Peaking Lights sound like Beach House if they actually had been to the beach. Or Broadcast attempting to remix Augustus Pablo with an 8-track and an eighth. It’s one of the most underrated (and best) records of the year — but surprisingly, other than Gorilla Vs. Bear and Dusted, praise has been tempered. This music boasts the celestial framework to throw out a thousand purple adjectives, but go to the Dusted Review for that. This is for free and I’m trying not to use the word seraphic today. (Give me time).

I suppose I could compare this to an opiated jungle Cruise. But unless you’re Rick Ross, when was the last time you went on a drugged out jungle cruise? What’s remarkable about this record is the mood it creates: ethereal and auroral, redolent of inaccessible worlds and amniotic melodies. It feels primal and simple, with an axis mundi groove that goes on and on and on. It’s church music for heathens, spiritual yet sacrilegious in the way it flouts genre conventions. You could play this for your infant or your girlfriend or your mother, or just drift into its narcotic haze, zoning out at the images of stained glass colors filtering through the skylight.

Download:
MP3: Peaking Lights-“Tiger Eyes (Laid Back)”
MP3: Peaking Lights-“Key Sparrow”

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