[sic] Magazine

Lights Out Asia: Eyes Like Brontide

Review by M Henaghan

While debut record ‘Garmonia’ remains something of a benchmark in the post-rock/electronic crossover world, Lights Out Asia haven’t exactly rested on their laurels since shifting onto California’s n5MD stable. ‘Tanks and Recognizers’ arrived midway through 2007, their first for that label, and shifted a large volume of copies in the process, indicating that this Wisconsin-based trio’s stock is as high as ever – if not higher.

‘Eyes Like Brontide’ is the swift follow-up for n5 and it is immediately clear that Lights Out have upped the ante. Those clean and concise beats of yore are now more imposing and crystalline. The swathes of dreamy guitar, such a feature of previous outings, are now drenched in oceans of reverb, delay and distortion. Yet, each of the 8 compositions come packed with hook upon hook, meaning you’ll develop an almost unquenchable thirst for more.

Sharing much in common with the likes of Manual, Port-Royal and label-mate Bitcrush, Lights Out Asia are able to differentiate themselves from these artists with the use of their secret weapon. Namely, Chris Schafer’s soaring vocal range. Playing a more profound role than ever, though not anywhere near enough, Schafer offers fleeting glimpses of just how powerful his voice can be on the dreamy, industrial strength trip-rock of ‘Psiu! Puxa!’ and on the affecting ‘If I Die, I Wish You a Horrible Death’. He plays a different part on ‘Raiders over the Ghosts of Chernobyl’, a spinning amalgam of epic synth, spoken word fragments and glacial guitar, whereby his voice acts as another instrument rather than a focal point, its harmonic quality instead adds effervescent texture.

Prior to this release rumours were abound that ‘Eyes Like Brontide’ would find Lights Out stretching the boundaries of their sound moving into darker territories while remaining true to their past. The fact that closing track “Six Points of Fire” is the most epic song they’ve ever written says all you need to know about this record. Its final few minutes are utterly stunning, twisting and turning like a Hollywood blockbuster, and worth the price of this record alone. A cathartic indication that the albatross of ‘Garmonia’ has been lifted for good.