Slow Dancing Society: The Sound of Lights When Dim
Hidden Shoal

Slow Dancing Society's (Washington-based musician Drew Sullivan) The Sound of Lights When Dim is one of the most beautiful albums I've heard in recent days. The moniker and album title alone perfectly capture the music's tranquil, late-night ambiance. Throughout the fifty-minute set, gentle streams of piano, organ, and guitars float in rapturous slow motion. Song titles like “A Song That Will Help You Remember to Forget” and “The Warm Familiar Smell of September” reinforce the music's nostalgic character though the music's dreaminess alone naturally induces reverie. It's a ravishing, often spine-chilling work that sustains its spellbinding quality from the first moment to the last.

Often, material of semi-ambient character is keyboard-centered but Slow Dancing Society's is clearly guitar-oriented. In the sumptuous opener “Be There,” glissandi guitars rise like creatures towards the light, while, anchored by the lulling rhythm of a recurring ‘tick,' electric guitars delicately weave throughout “A Song That Will Help You Remember to Forget.” Elsewhere, a repeated folk theme brings “The Warm Familiar Smell of September” closest to conventional songcraft before the slow-burning guitar lament “Lonesome Sentiment” brings the album to a magisterial close. At low volume, the material assumes an even-toned homogeneity that's belied by the constantly evolving layers of detail one hears at a louder volume. Closer listening reveals just how delicately modulated and graceful a piece like “West of 4 th (Kristina's Song)” truly is. Despite being magnificently understated, The Sound of Lights When Dim is nothing less than a triumph.

April 2007