Just over three years after forming and on the back of two well-received earlier singles (‘They Transmit’ and ‘Klustered’), the debut long-player from Eat Lights Become Lights “Autopia” is released this week. But let’s start with lead track and single ‘Test Drive’. Despite the title there is absolutely nothing tentative or learner driver about this epic and infectious opener. It is a near six minute euphoric komische rush that surges with familiarity but still feels exhilaratingly fresh each time I hear it. Sublime, fizzing with energy and damn catchy.
The theme of travel is prevalent in other song titles too: ‘All Aboard’, ‘Muzik for Motorways’, ‘Monorail’. Which is appropriate for the trio (Neil Rudd providing guitars, programming and loops, Alex Baker on bass and Rob Hyde on drums) bring a propulsive, driving rock-band dynamic to these ten instrumental pieces. Kraftwerk may have written the definitive hymn to the autobahn but here Eat Lights Become Lights are sound-tracking a neon-lit, open-throttle dash along that long, empty concrete strip. Inspiration may come from slinky and cerebral German seventies electronica, but for the most part “Autopia” feels like a collection of restless rock songs built on urgent rhythms, glistening guitar riffs and adrenaline.
But if Eat Lights Become Lights take a cue from Krautrock they are never tightly bound to their teutonic forebears. Witness the stadium-shaking drums of ‘Dark Matter’ or the dark techno pulses of ‘Machine Language’ or elsewhere elements of shoegaze and industrial noise seeping into the mix. For a fully instrumental album, “Autopia” does not peak and trough or move through different moods; most tracks proceed at a similar same pace and intensity but feel continuously fresh and never samey. Two slight departures late on in the running order: firstly the cosmic pulsations and chimes of ‘Stargazer’ in which wispy synths become distant, celestial choirs, then the ten-minute trippy post-rock of ‘All Aboard’. The latter features a spoken boarding call sample that’s a bit too close to cheesy cliché for comfort but it is a brief and minor distraction, and possibly the only misplaced step in a fifty five minute album of remarkably consistent quality. Despite the synthesised sounds and the urban/motorway references, what really carries this album is its delicious, organic melodies and the joyous sense of freedom. The album concludes with ‘White Horses’ (sadly not a cover of the TV theme music) but another slab of incessant komische which could easily loop around, Möbius Strip-like, to opener ‘Test Drive’. And I for one would not feel in the slightest bit disappointed if it did.
Eat Lights Become Lights - Dark Matter
Eat Lights Become Lights Autopia [BUY]