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While the noise swirling around them is getting close to deafening, you get the feeling that the hype wouldn’t penetrate the ethereal bubble that Peaking Lights exist in. The partnership of Indra Dunis and Aaron Coyes exudes innocence and wide-eyed delight at every turn – in that sense they make a pleasing departure from much of the current lo-fi zeitgeist. Where many of these artists have staked their claim to degraded sonics through a cacophony of noise and scrubbed-out vocals, Peaking Lights have a delicate, charming nature to them which uses withered production traits as a pathway rather than an end point.
In fact, upon listening to their new LP Lucifer, the two most stark reference points are worlds apart and have nothing to do with the likes of Hype Williams, Maria Minerva or Laurel Halo. In the sweet and serene “Beautiful Son”, one is reminded of the more tender moments of Low. True, Alan Sparhawk’s band tend to err on the darker side of the spectrum, and perhaps Indra’s voice is a little reminiscent of Mimi Parker, but in the poignant, bluesy guitar lines, steady piano chord progressions, and subtle application of electronic elements, there is undeniably a shared spirit between the two.
The other instant correlation comes from the fuzzy dub of “Cosmic Tides”, which harks back to the early 80s roots crossover of Ari-Up’s New Age Steppers. There’s no doubt that Peaking Lights have a strong vein of dub coursing through them. Their last album on Not Not Fun, 936, was peppered with sub-bothering bass lines, and in their appropriation of chirpy organs and muted guitar picking they clearly know what they’re doing. Much like New Age Steppers though, there’s still something inherently white about the reggae they make. Just to be clear, that’s in no way a bad thing; even UB40 had some cracking music in their early years.
Anyway, reference points are all well and good, but Lucifer stands strong enough on its own to not need to lean on anyone elses work. Again it comes back to the clarity of their music. There’s no denying that it is lo-fi (they even wryly name on of their tracks “Lo-Hi” on the album) but they don’t use that aesthetic to mask the music that they make. Rather it sounds like they really don’t have anything else to make their songs with other than Coyes’ ropey home-made equipment and a battered four-track recorder. Whether this really is the case or not, there’s no air of contrivance about Peaking Lights. For that reason alone the hype is well and truly justified.
2. Beautiful Son
3. Live Long
4. Cosmic Tides
6. Lo Hi
7. Dream Beat
8. Morning Star