Lights Out Asia: Eyes Like Brontide

Lights Out Asia's third full-length Eyes Like Brontide finds the trio (guitarist and vocalist Chris Schafer, electronics artisan Mike Ystad, guitarist Mike Rush) perfecting its trippy amalgam of symphonic space-rock and shoegaze-inflected dream pop. The fifty-two-minute collection scatters three dramatic, long-form pieces amongst five concise settings, with piano and breathy vocals prominently used to warm and humanize the multi-layered swirl typically blossoming around it (during the melancholy “Psiu! Puxa!,” a plaintive piano melody is almost swallowed by the trio's immense vortex). Though the trio powers its epic tunes with drum machines and electronic beats, the material exudes a full “live” sound, and the resultant instrumental splendor is towering without being cacophonous.

Eyes Like Brontide documents a media-saturated world where radio transmissions exacerbate the collective unease felt by its citizens, but it's also a world that's not entirely bereft of hope. Following a gloomy opening of dystopic synths and mumbling voices, the mood in “Radars Over The Ghosts Of Chernobyl” brightens when chiming guitar sparkle and wordless harmonies appear, an effect intensified by the addition of Schafer's imploring voice and a multi-layered attack that's equal parts symphonic and shoegaze in character. A heady blend of radio transmissions, keyboards, guitars, and wispy vocals, “The Wrong Message Could End You” likewise encapsulates the Lights Out Asia sound in a single, twelve-minute gesture. Framed by vinyl crackle, “If I Die, I Wish You a Horrible Death” adds a vocals-and-guitars ballad interlude before the closing epic “Six Points of Fire” lifts off. Throwing all caution to the wind, the trio unleashes the full force of its sound five minutes into the piece when the guitars swell uproariously and then escalate three minutes later into a titanic wail that trumps everything heard before. It's an awesome finish that leaves one eager to hear such intensity delivered onstage.

October 2008