Album review: Pretty Lights, “A Color Map of the Sun”By Matt Miller | July 2nd, 2013 | 10 comments
On Soundcloud, Pretty Lightsâ€™ Derek Vincent Smith calls his latest album a â€śmulti-medium map of my mind and self.â€ť Itâ€™s a description that makes â€śA Color Map of the Sunâ€ť sound like some kind of dream therapy rather than an album. And a dream is really the closest analogy to describe the album â€” a collage of sounds that create an overall experience without articulating any specific information or purpose.
With any intention aside, each of these tracks showcase Smithâ€™s prowess as a technician. He layers samples, vinyl-sounding vocals and live instrumentation to create a sometimes frenzied and sometimes relaxing atmospheres into consistently hazy textures.
Heâ€™s at his best when he focuses on the softer side of the electronic spectrum on meditations such as â€śYellow Birdâ€ť and â€śPress Pause.â€ť On these tracks he strays closer to the stoner experimental electronic jams of Flying Lotus, but without the rhythmic or harmonic complexity. Itâ€™s the harsher, more macho sounds akin to traditional dubstep where he loses his auditory depth. The worst case is on â€śLetâ€™s Get Busy,â€ť a song that abandons the light and fleeting for some of the more obvious dubstep crunch.
On â€śAround the Block,â€ť the most enjoyable of the heavier tracks on â€śA Color Map of the Sun,â€ť rapper Talib Kweliâ€™s voice and flow mesh well with a jazzy, hip-hop beat.
While a pleasurable listen, â€śA Color Map of the Sunâ€ť more than anything leaves you wondering what the â€śwhyâ€ť is behind this album. Like many of the jam musicians who act as Smithâ€™s electronic and nonelectronic forebears, Pretty Lights feels bent on showing off the producerâ€™s prowess with electronics more than anything else.