Saturday, August 21, 2010
In the Days Of Jupiter - Lights Out Asia
In the Days Of Jupiter
Lights Out Asia
SCQ Rating: 84%
It was in the bleakest week of winter - end of January, beginning of February – when I first heard Lights Out Asia at a friend’s apartment in Montreal. Through a sampling of what my friend judged as key tracks, maybe three in all, I knew this was neither another post-rock band dabbling in electronics nor anything I could readily compare against. Truly, Tanks and Recognizers delivered that something I’d been missing in my record collection, and nothing’s likely to steal its thunder, now or ever.
What makes Tanks and Recognizers so untouchable isn’t that the 2007 outing’s dynamics can’t be cloned or recycled, but that Lights Out Asia don’t even attempt a victory lap. In the Days Of Jupiter zip-lines out to where Eyes Like Brontide wandered two years ago, then skips a few galaxies for some unspoiled pastures, both alien and ambient. Carried weightless into this unfurling distance by ‘All These Worlds Are Yours’ and encountering first-turmoil on ‘Except Europa’, we listeners have no safety chute to steer free with, no rational opening to abuse the skip-button. Best heard as a whole, In the Days Of Jupiter paces its interplanetary tour with extended bouts of cool electronics and sudden collisions of ferocity, typically trading serene nuances (‘All Is Quiet In the Valley’) for blistering guitar assaults (’13 AM’). Although many of these tracks exude spaciousness and foreboding – like ‘Attempt No Landing Here’, which creeps from a supple chill-out track into a Godspeed! You Black Emperor build – but the explosive electronic-rock marriage evident on Tanks and Recognizers is largely gone. Here, the spectrum gets wider, the poles more extreme, and the journey more intense.
As with any dramatic shift, some fans will cry foul, citing their heavy crescendos and Chris Schafer’s vocals as too absent, too often. Those are fair criticisms for a first-listen scenario – hell, they were mine – but for all of Lights Out Asia’s attention to atmosphere, none of it falters into negative space or, worse, tedium. Alternately, the album’s back-end gets surprisingly antsy, retracing wall-to-wall dance production in ‘Then I Hope You Like the Desert’ and epic rise-then-crumble dynamics on ‘Shifting Sands Wreck Ships’. Like its limitless cover-art, In the Days Of Jupiter keeps blurring the horizon, camouflaging as a meditative affair when emotion is raging just beneath the clouds. There’s no going back, and fortunately, Lights Out Asia knew this before I did.