Nite Lite: Megrez
Desire Path Recordings

One of the most appealing things about a vinyl-based label such as Desire Path Recordings is that its products never fall prey to bloat, given the time limitations imposed by the format. Nite Lite's thirty-nine-minute Megrez is a perfect example as it splits nine concise pieces between two twelve-inch sides. Of more relevance, however, is the nature of the material itself: though Nite Lite duo Philip and Myste French are Portland-based and Megrez was recorded on Mt. Tabor, Oregon, the recording extends its sonic vision into lands far beyond US borders.

Nite Lite's material is often enigmatic, a quality aptly captured in a note accompanying the release: “This music exists somewhere between sci-fi soundtrack and being inside a music box.” It's impossible to say whether “The Axis of Tao,” for example, is an actual field recording documenting a farflung locale wherein a crude engine whirrs amidst violent windstorms and the bleeting of sheep or whether it's some clever sleight-of-hand on Nite Lite's part. In like manner, “Fire Walkers” could be an actual untreated recording of amphibians croaking in the night air as well as wolves howling in response to wooden flute players—or a purely artificial simulation that's uncommonly convincing. Elsewhere, bird calls emanate from a jungle's dark center to the accompaniment of hand drums while musical elements placidly chime amidst thunderstorm and rain drizzle.

In “History of the Abyss,” synthesizer squiggles, wordless murmurs, and clatter of some indeterminate kind all appear alongside a whirring drone, making for one of the album's more curious collages. But it's hardly the only oddity: the bizarro percussive sounds that back typewriter clacks in “Springingtime” evoke the image of a literary figure, a Paul Bowles or William Burroughs, perhaps, pecking away in a heat-drenched Morocco hotel room with opium addicts and scorpions for company. Megrez is a music teeming with the chatter of creatures, the plunk of music boxes and kalimbas, the tinkle of bells—an alien and exotic tapestry wherein natural and artificial sounds collide, connect, and dissolve.

December 2012