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Peaking Lights
Lucifer Emily Mackay , June 18th, 2012 05:11

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Never trust a hippy. One moment they're saying things like "I guess it's easier to look for the thread that ties long spans of time together, rather than the needle that pokes the holes for the thread that collapses point a and point b - making life less linear and more cyclical. Like a pulse that pumps blood thru the body, bringing nourishing energy as well as removing the impurities within that whole thing you call you." The next minute, as you're trying to figure out exactly what the fuck that means, as your eye follows the eddies of weed smoke in the oil lamp light, before you know what's happening you'll be dancing round a campfire clad in only a circlet of briar, mushied up to your popping eyeballs. That's how they get you.

So don't ponder on that quote from Peaking Lights' biog, written by the band's Aaron Coyes, or what might lie behind the Satanic implications of that album title. Just listen to the pretty sounds and keep a stern cup of coffee close to hand.

The Wisconsin duo, authors of last year's heavy psych-dub-pop-trip 936, haven't exactly stayed true to Coyes' predictions that this album would be "tranced vibrations of the most killer all nite party you've never been to: less cocaine, more weed, a sustained orgasm". That album sounds like a supine riot, but this one sounds more like a lovely deckchair daydream. It might seem patronising to suggest the birth of the couple's first child has inspired this lighter, high-on-life euphoria, but then again, one track is called 'Beautiful Son' and the young Master Peaking Lights' gurgles appear on 'LO HI', so you gotta figure it's something quite strongly shaping their outlook at the moment.

Opener 'Moonrise' is a soothing, new-agey circle of keys and chimes, almost lullaby-like, bright and gentle. The aforementioned 'Beautiful Son' is like a tiptoeingly delicate version of the lightest, sunniest moments of Screamadelica such as 'Inner Flight', soft tweets and burbles of synth woolgathering among Indra Dunis' dreamily detached vocals and a wandering guitar. 'Cosmic Tides' finds the couple sitting on a celestial shore, intoning siren words about memories and time (DON'T LISTEN). It's all very beatific.

The only problem is, music of this kind of trippy, dubby, cosmic kind tends to become a bit wafty if it's all too wide-eyed and wonder-kissed. 936 was at its best when the vibes were heaviest, when the hypnotic grooves got so fried you started to wonder if they and you would ever come down. 'Live Love' by contrast, is a bit like a dub Beach House, and at some more indulgent points, attention drifts and suddenly it's like that moment, watching the sunrise with a load of mates at 4am where you come down a little bit and realise with a sad little pop that actually you're all talking shite and you're quite bored and tired. As the title of the soporific, sunbleached skank that is 'LO HI' suggests, 'Lucifer' is more a subdued warm bath of than a plunge into the psyche. Come the twinkly, woozy, shoesy outro of 'Morning Star' (another name for Lucifer, of course, but don't think about it) you're so relaxed someone could come along and candle-wax your privates and you'd barely flinch. Maybe that's exactly what the hippies want, man.

Chal Ravens
Jun 18, 2012 7:43pm

This album is essentially similar enough to the previous one (which only came out about a year and a half ago, right?) to warrant reviews that say: 'If you liked that, you'll still like this.' I mean, Lucifer is less immediately captivating than 936 but that's because 936 really stood out when it bubbled up from nowhere - once you've seen the trick it's never as exciting the second time round. But I really think this is a decent record and will benefit from a bit of ageing, a bit of sinking in.

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James McKenzie
Jun 19, 2012 6:13pm

In reply to Chal Ravens:

Agreed my initial thoughts were that it was too watered down in comparison to 936 which was such an excellent record that my anticipation for the release of this was sky high! so maybe after getting over my initial dissapointment i'll give it some time to leave a better impression and hopefully find some depth i've missed on my first half dozen listens

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