Though they’ve only been playing together for about nine months, Asheville, NC’s Danny Peck and Kie Cochran sound totally in sync on their debut EP as The Night Lights. Their music isn’t exactly brimming with organic warmth, but there is an undeniable connection pulsing throughout the disc, growing and expanding. Despite the fact that the album is overrun with distant, lukewarm electronic instrumentation, things come together fluidly, bubbling and seething like a computerized swamp.
There’s a keen attention to scope in these scattered soundscapes, one that looks to atmospheric build and theatric propulsion rather than minutiae. On album opener “Building”, the shivering electronic percussion and stuttering video game synths provided by Peck start out low-slung, like a cold, rainy cityscape. Eventually, though, Cochran’s swinging guitar and the electronics clamber louder and louder, building together, the other meaning of the name proving more important.
The shimmering, Sigur Ros-y opening to “Meadows” sounds like a symphony set in reverse, until Cochran’s e-bowed guitar lingers a little too strong in the fore. Regardless of that flaw in the blending, though, the two band members’ halves of the equation rise and fade incredibly stably, not a single nanosecond apart. Even when the soundscape plods a bit (as on “Sunnyside”, which simultaneously sounds like elevator music and smooth jazz), the two musicians have a distinct cohesion, playing off of each other at every step.
Despite all of their technical prowess, impressive teamwork, and Peck’s impeccable atmosphere-building, there’s a lack of catharsis in a lot of the tracks on the EP. The majority of “Kadine” is a haunting, chilled dream, stilted, delayed guitar stabbing out like icicles as fizzy, cradling electronics build a web around the listener. There’s a build and fade that The Night Lights can handle, but too often there’s nothing at the peak of that mountain to kick the whole thing over.
Essential Tracks: “Building”, “Kadine”