. issue XI : vi .

by barathron

. artist : eat lights become lights .
. album : modular living .
. year : 2013 .
. label : the great pop supplement / rocket girl .
. grade : a plus .


Eat Lights Become Lights, for very good—and obvious—reasons, are placed into the Krautrock gene pool … deep in the pool, from the golden era right through the continuum to the modern age. Though Krautrock’s tentacles flex through infinitely more than motorik beats, Eat Lights Become Lights carry the baton for the DNA strand most are familiar with. This isn’t Ash Ra Tempel or Can, but it’s far more than a simple Kraftwerk or Neu! reheat to say the very least. If you’re familiar with the sleek chrome-plated pulse Eat Lights Become Lights generate, then you know that, like their ‘genre,’ they digest and manifest far more than a return trip down the Autobahn. Now, that may sound moot when Eat Lights Become Lights’ new outing, Modular Living, is their most straightforward Krautrock album yet, an almost classicist document of pit stops, but, setting themselves apart from herd as they always do, those pit stops or points of reference become deep, meaningful touchstones not only for Eat Lights Become Lights but for the listener as well. For as traditional as the framework is, there’s an ultra-modern bounty of diverse meat that is fresh from the butcher. There’s no mistaking that this is a now record that encompasses many junctures along the way over a singular, frozen point. As with their other records, Modular Living teems with a retro-futuristic bliss that makes it timeless by straddling the ‘then,’ but also defining the ‘now’ as a vision of possibilities of what could have been had things progressed down a slightly different detour. On Modular Living, Eat Lights Become Lights sound more sinewy, further elongated for maximum chewing pleasure.

The title cut makes this evident as soon as the wheels hit the road. A tempered mid-tempo blend of surges, “Modular Living” sets the tone for the rest of the album while also raising the bar. “MOD-ULO-510” starts like some cyber-organic denizen of Eat Lights Become Lights’ nostalgic future waking up and warming up the consciousness before quickly snapping into full production mode. Around that assembly line pulse, there’s a whole other world spinning and generating atmosphere. Methodical and purposeful, it casts a small shadow over the day, lending a depth to the throb that many others overlook and consequently don’t achieve. The attention and respect paid to small details like that are what give much of Modular Living its dynamics, but by no means all. The metropolitan heartbeat shimmer of “13th Looking South …” gets an added boost and fuller character with droning facets and a rising/falling call and response deep whale call that threads through an already great song. The dream-like lushness of “Rowley Way Overlook” serves as a reminder that all the motoring you’ve done has actually gotten you somewhere. Sparkling like a multi-colored field of crystalline flowers with some stellar, though small, vocal accents, “Rowley Way Overlook” is far more than a simple resting place to take stock in the trip: it’s a pull over to revel in another side of Eat Lights Become Lights that’s as impeccably put together and rewarding as the surges and throbs. “Los Feliz to Griffith” works much the same way, kicking off the flip side by gently waking you from the slumber-gaze induced by “Rowley Way Overlook.” The gentle tug of “Chiba Prefecture” picks up the pace slightly, but seems more concerned with making sure you don’t take in the passing vistas outside the window as a hollow speed blur. The ebb and flow sparkle and thrive in a great display of moderation—and the results this approach can yield in the right song and in the right hands. Up a notch, next, with “Electromagnetika,” as you circle back into the city on the neon subway, gaining speed and drive the closer you get to the heart of the metropolis. Sonic flourishes and colors dance at the edge of your vision and ears, teeming with the stories and beats of countless other passengers rocketing by. We came in easy on the second leg of the trek, and Eat Lights Become Lights eases us out in similar fashion with “Habitat ’67” (also available on Deep Distance as a 12″ split with, Twelve providing a fantastic flip side). A blissed out rising and falling stream of inseparable layers, “Habitat ’67” rounds out your Modular Living situation with a sheen of sophistication that closes the record with the bar raised again, functioning as both closure and starting point for another voyage.

Trips taken so far and the track record of Eat Lights Become Lights guarantee the next motoring will be just as fulfilling in its promise. Eat Lights Become Lights continue embracing, embellishing and exploiting a vehicle that keeps pursing perfection even as the motor never stalls or falters. Here’s selfishly hoping it takes them a long time and many more road trips to get there. Modular Living is out on CD via Rocket Girl and on vinyl via The Great Pop Supplement.

by Mr. Atavist