[sic] Magazine

Nightlands – Forget The Mantra

Nightlands is a solo front for Philadelphia-based multi-instrumentalist Dave Hartley (equally of The War On Drugs ) and its experimental pop is never less than interesting. And, for an album reputedly set in the oneiric realm, and one featuring home recordings captured during those crepuscular moments when sleep isn’t far away, Forget The Mantra is neither surprise nor disappointment.

At its best, Forget The Mantra takes the recent glo-fi sound out on a road trip to the West Coast, via Paris, circa Air ‘s Moon Safari, as well as the homesteads of any quality baroque pop producer you care to mention. Hartley’s Tascam 388 recording undoubtedly provides analogue charm throughout, while more modern effects chatter and bubble into the conscious.

The vocal samples on “WFMS, 1993” and elsewhere are Hartley’s own – snippets of his life, radio-static filled field recordings he made. Interwoven into a more fanciful fabric, they allow his dream project to anchor into reality. Yet, it is with kindred spirits Animal Collective that Forget The Mantra most often touches base, no more so that on the impressive vocal on “God What Have I Done”, the diaphanous intro’s harmonising, or on the deft lushness of choice cuts like “300 Clouds”.

Though less rhythmic and complex overall, it’s a pervading trait that lives on into the mournful “’Til I Die”, a track that equally recalls The Besnard Lakes ‘ glassy-eyed “Like The Ocean”, if that ocean were Brian Wilson ‘s own. The resultant collage knocks the recent patchy efforts of acts like AU and Big Spider’s Back into touch, for Forget The Mantra is frequently one of the more convincing post-Merriweather Post Pavilion offerings around.

However, Hartley makes it entirely his own with a lightly stoned sense of summer ambience, the album’s babbling drift coming from a variety of sources – strings, gently plucked guitar, percussion and scuffed samples that, on “Longways Homebound, 2010”, even suggest at an affinity with the electronic minimalism of a blissed-out Fourtet .

Frequently floating like a butterfly but rarely stinging like a bee, Hartley has produced a strong cosmic mantra that’ll struggle to be forgotten by those lucky enough to hear it.

Advised downloads : “Longways Homebound, 2010” and “’Til I Die”.

~Forget The Mantra is out now on Secretly Canadian .~