ARTIST: In Light Of
RELEASE: Little Treasures
RELEASE DATE: 18th November 2016
RECORD COMPANY: Unsigned
Simple and easy… 5/5. And that is, really, that. You know, we could talk and jibber about this and that and the high and the low points; we could peer inside and try and examine what exactly is doing what and what makes the music interesting or engaging… But the best way to describe In Light Of’s new EP/Mini album is by the title they have given it; Little Treasures. A title fitting for a small collective group of songs that push the boundaries of post-rock into more experimental territory and that gives the name lo-fi a prettier looking face in a contextual sense. Landing somewhere between what is generally dubbed ‘ambient’ music and post-rock, the EP comfortably spreads it wings in a sometimes minimalist fashion to cross the path of art rock, dream pop and experimental music. Beautiful, mesmerizing, playfully introspective and kaleidoscopically bright, the band presents not only a well-rounded EP, but an interesting and engaging piece of musicality.
The EP opens with ‘Bless Your Heart’, a song based around vivid and distant soundscapes that include dream pop sensibilities while introducing the soothing sounds of string instruments into the mix. Even though this is the opening song, the band’s mode of song writing and production are on full display to convey their idea of how post-rock music should sound. That idea is that a song is not a song. Instead, they present what is known as a song as a mesh of different colourful sounds that join together and blend to create a textured style of song writing. The listener doesn’t hear a song; they hear sounds. Sounds that join and form other sounds that lead onto different sounds that set up the music for a different sound and so on and so on. On ‘Bless Your Heart’ these sounds begin as a kind of representation of bright, lucid colours and dreaming; the sounds are all beautiful, slight and warm. On the other side of the song, the string section picks these sounds up and adds a different dimension to them entirely. The song eventually becomes swept up in the beat and sound of the drums which forms a kind of loose musical structure that the listener can follow along to. This is followed by the much more stripped back and acoustic laden ‘Cardinal Song’. Again, the band play with smaller and ‘lighter’ sounds that crescendo as the song continues, always holding the same attitude of sound. ‘Cardinal Song’ however, unlike the EP’s opening track, goes full song in a musical sense; beginning with an acoustic phrase that also appears later.
The title track melds the acoustic mood and the textured sound of the previous tracks together into a song that evokes imagery of bright and soft clouds and some kind of relaxing landscape. The soundscapes that the band are backed up by the slow and steady pace of a drum beat that sits at an extremely relaxing and comfortable volume in the mix. The bands use of piano shines heavily on this song, especially around the midway point where it chases the acoustic guitar around the bright patterns in the background of the music. The song sounds as though In Light Of have captured the albums cover art and set about writing a song that conveys that place and mood to the listener; beautiful. ‘Ascending’ introduces a more digital element to the album; opening with piano and synth like sounds that build up into patter-like drums or samples perhaps? All the while the band maintain their signature layering of noise and sound in the background. There may even be a DJ scratch in the music somewhere… Maybe, or is that something else? The middle of the song acts as a sort of contemplative ease which resonates with some kind of introspective tone; the slow drumming enters and the listener notices just how much is going on in the song and just how many instruments and sounds the band has layered therein. ‘Harmonica’ revisits a lot of the music that the band has explored and showcased through the EP and thus, while still greatly enjoyable, doesn’t present anything vastly different or alternative in the face of the other songs.
As previously stated, Little Treasures presents an alternate definition of the word song. There is little completely ‘traditional’ forms of song writing on this EP. Sure, there’s the occasional acoustic guitar riff or a section of notes and chords that link together for a while but overall much of the album relies on collages of soundscapes to tie themselves together over the top of a drum beat or noise. This is brilliant. And the whole thing is brilliant. It’s so beautiful to listen to; whether that be intently or as background music. It’s an indication of how post-rock can be manipulated into different forms and styles and because of this, Little Treasures could easily be labelled experimental above any other genres; but it is not wild experimentation with a million different guitars, feedback or a trillion different samples, it’s just the simple things; the stripped back elements that make you really look into a sound.
Apparently the making of Little Treasures was somewhat of an experiment within itself; each member of the two piece sent the other music that eventually was edited, composed and re-written into some coherent form of music. This practice puts a lo-fi like spin onto the music on the EP. But not in a grainy, screechy, scratching style but in a more uncovered, honest way that pushes the music forward and helps illuminate every tiny sound throughout the EP. Little Treasures is not an album for those seeking structural, tonal and verse-chorus formed music… But it is however a truly rewarding and intelligent piece of music making that emphasises the tiny cogs and gears that musicians generally coat up with heavy production and song writing techniques. Their music overall is helped greatly by their skills in editing, mixing, performance and sound.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Cam Phillips is a writer and above all, a music lover, who seeks to gain experience through writing and listening. He is also an avid film viewer and art and literature junkie who enjoys creative writing. His most recent published work was featured on the Australian heavy music blog, I Probably Hate Your Band.