Music Monday: Shedding Light on the Dark

Single LightLight is most precious in absolute darkness. Any place else, we’re likely to take it for granted.

When I worked in construction, it was a regular gig for us to build scaffolding inside coal-fire boilers and hoppers. You want to talk about dirty jobs? Try wearing dust masks, full-body paper suits that don’t breathe and those goggles you used to wear in science class. One of my most vivid memories was standing in the line right at the neck of one of these hoppers, and maybe a foot from me was a light on a string. There was so much dust that, when the workers above moved around too much, it would send down a cloud of dust so thick that I wouldn’t be able to see the light…and it was so close that I could reach out and touch it.

Minimalism is a great way to isolate the voices of duality, and that’s exactly what DARKSIDE delivers us with their album Psychic.

The opening track (embedded here) is a little slow to get started. What I remember about working in the hoppers is that darkness is a test of patience. When lights go out, we really learn how impatient our eyes make us; this, I believe, is why we close or hyper-focus our eyes when we meditate.

I’ve really gotten sick of the modern “dubstep” formula of minimalist opening, sample female voice echoing words which may or may not mean anything, short pause, then drop bass. Nicholas Jaar, the producer half of DARKSIDE, makes us wait a mind-numbing four minutes and 45 seconds for the first inkling of a rhythmic progression—longer than most top 40 songs you’ll hear on the radio. Over and over again, Jaar asks the listener for patience, and more often than not rewards the listener for their efforts. Were this poorly executed, it could make Psychic come off as unsure of itself or unwilling to commit, but there is something about the duration that comes off as more exploratory or promising—Jaar and his collaborator Dave Harrington are expert guides to darkness, walking the listener through long corridors and around the occasional sharp corners of sound.

The result is a sexy, slow, ambient yet rhythmic pulse through a velvety darkness, introduced by a golden arrow, like a single light beckoning the listener to follow. If I had any more power of persuasion, I would nominate this album for top 5 sexiest albums of 2013. Then again, it’s already October, and I’d be hard pressed to find maybe another two or three to fill that category.


Photo: khawkins04/Flickr


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