Slow Dancing Society : "The Sound of Lights When Dim" (Hidden Shoal Recordings)
Music is all about moments like this. Moments when you are, unexpectedly, knocked over and stunned into submission by an album that has, quite literally, came from nowhere. Washington based producer, Drue Sullivan has managed to do just that, under his Slow Dancing Society moniker. “The Sound of Lights When Dim” is a deeply affecting, consistently excellent effort of stunning tranquillity and beautiful ambience, that demands repeated listening.
There is a fabulous quote from Brian Eno on Slow Dancing Society’s biography, it reads: “Ambient music must be able to accommodate many levels of listening without enforcing on in particular…” These sentiments are executed with a degree of perfection on “Sounds of Lights…” in all eight compositions.
It all starts off with “Be There”, a hazy ambient passage featuring reverbed guitar that reflects the calmness of those early hours of the morning, just when the sun starts to creep its way across the sky. “Radiance” follows and makes use of excellent glacial notes and distantly soft beats, while soothing acoustic guitar work evokes images of a flower blooming in Spring-time.
There are plenty of influences throughout “The Sound of Lights..”, I can hear bits and pieces of Pink Floyd, Explosions In The Sky, Hammock and various IDM artists. Although it is now over-used, to the point of annoyance, when describing ambient music. There are subtle hints of Sigur Ros too. “The Delicate Sounds of Silence” recalls that “Untitled” ep from a few years ago, although this time there are no Hopelandish lyrics or ice-cool e-bowed guitars. Instead, it’s warm, sun-kissed ambience, twinkling notes and tantalising waves of soft distortion. It really is magical stuff.
A number of song titles hint at regrets or the loss of someone close. “ A Song That Will Help You Forget”, for example, combines resplendent guitar harmonics and an echoed click-beat. By now you realise Sullivan is a superbly talented musician. One of the key components I look out for in music, these days, is restraint and Sullivan understands this concept clearly. He knows when to direct a track, ascending with distortion and clearer programming, but equally he knows when to let a song cascade back to sedate atmospheres too.
“How Life Was Meant To Be Lived”, simply put, is this album's showpiece. Imagine “Wish You Were Here” era Floyd remixed by a contemporary electronic artist. The atmospheric slide guitar melds with intelligent and crisp programming to devastating effect. It’s a perfect piece of emotional ambience.
Slow Dancing Society employs velvety synths that wash all over you and intricate guitar playing that tugs at your heart-strings. “The Sound of Lights When Dim” feels like the soundtrack for that moment when you are supposed to arrive at the gates of heaven. When I finally succumb, I hope I hear the opening strains of this album. That way, I’ll know I’ve made it. Hidden Shoal Recordings have a masterpiece on their hands. Order it here.
Rating = 90%