• PEAKING LIGHTS
    Lucifer (CD, LP)

    Mexican Summer

  • $10.99

A few months ago, when I saw the cover of this duo's forthcomingLucifer album -- with its incredible Ed Ruscha-like airbrushed text by Robert Beatty (hardly a slouch in his own right) -- I had a hunch it would be something very special. And now, having spent the better part of the past two weeks all but consumed by this record, I'll just say it now. This is my favorite album so far this year. 

The original Latin root of the word Lucifer is defined as the "bearer of light," and this album, timed and named with the birth of Indra Dunis and Aaron Coyes' son in mind, is the closest thing I've heard to love pressed to wax in quite a while. Bookended by what sound like lovely improvisations -- think Cluster circa Zuckerzeit (clearly a reference if one compares the two record covers), "Moonrise" opens the album bubbling with quiet but determined effervescence. "Beautiful Son" is the first indication that the buzz around Peaking Lights was justified, and that their charm lay not solely with their previously lo-fi sound. With its benevolent air of familial love, it's hard not to think of John Lennon's "Beautiful Boy," though Peaking Lights' incarnation comes off like Antena as produced Andrew Weatherall, with a guitar solo a la J. Spaceman to boot -- this song will be everywhere this summer. "Live Love" begins like classic Chicago-era acid before morphing like sea foam into a distinct kind of Balearic sunrise anthem. The Balearic motif continues on "Cosmic Tides," providing fans of Studio the closest thing they'll hear to that now defunct Swedish duo, with Aaron playing dub scientist on Indra's cooing vocals. "Midnight (In the Valley of the Shadows)," with its "Our Words" refrain, evokes Tina Weymouth (think "Wordy Rapphinghood") fronting an early-'80s NY-based African ensemble. Domino released "LO HI" as a 12" single a few weeks ago but it doesn't diminish the track's seductive digi-dub embrace. "Dream Beat" may be this listener's favorite. This is the sound of Peaking Lights at the Hacienda. If Cluster, Chris & Cosey and Carl Craig made a lovechild. "My heart beats for you," sings Indra. And you believe her. The delicate, blissed interlude "Morning Star" brings things down in a fine style. 

That the astute listener can detect clear inspirations (Weatherall, JA dub, pastoral kosmsiche, post-punk näiveté, Balearic drift, early house & techno, new age) doesn't detract from the result. It's the combination of their influences -- and, it must be said, their songs -- that create an exhilarating, and timeless-feeling, syncretism. Lucifer is the sound of a group who've made a dynamic evolution beyond hypnagogia into one of the most vibrant bands in the world right now. This album will soundtrack summer and what comes after. It sounds like love. And it just may be my album of the year.

-Alexis Georgopoulos (June 21, 2012)

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