23 Sep 2018
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Pacific Heights - Album Review: A Lost Light

13 Sep 2018 // A review by Alex Moulton

A Lost Light is the Pacific Heights album I have been intrigued about ever since I reviewing The Greystone; a single that I described as having “a relaxing, tranquil tone that makes the body want to move gracefully and simultaneously sink into a mass of blankets”. As such, The Greystone is the opening track, which leaves the remainder of the album as exciting, unknown territory.

Lost In A Dream (featuring singer songwriter Neil Macleod) takes the tranquility of The Greystone and runs with it. The vocals are minimal but gradually build throughout the song. Everything blends together; lacking clarity, everything has the softness and blurred edges of a dream, with percussive elements pitter-pattering in and out driving the song forward.

Another track that takes its time with a long building instrumental introduction, The End Is In Sight (featuring Joe Dukie of Fat Freddy’s Drop) starts to gain some clarity with visceral twanging from a guitar, and clearer vocals and drums patterns. Despite the lucidity, this does not have the features of a standalone song. Almost an interlude with lyrics; building as it leads you to Colour Of The Night. Featuring Julia Catherine Parr of Black City Lights, Colour Of The Night injects some pace and energy. Easily the highlight of the album, there is a sense of energy and rhythm that makes the body want to move, and this is backed up by the fresh female vocals that display great range and control.

Calling Home comes in with thick, thunderous cinematic tones, but the pace and energy gained in the previous track is swiftly lost, leaving you with a tingling in the limbs. The ebb from the flow, the trough of the wave.

Slowly building again, Forgotten Times (featuring Edie) takes its time with over 90 seconds of ambient build up. Taking nearly three minutes to get to the choral section, Forgotten Times has one of the more emotional if short-lived vocal performances of the release. Hauntingly iridescent melodies.

Neil Macleod returns for the nest two tracks, Frozen Tear and My Dear Love Part 1. Another minimal track instrumentally, until nearly half way through the track when it bursts into life with an upbeat drum pattern and key tones for the choral section. Such a drastic shift from verse to chorus that it catches you off guard and does take you out of the moment a bit. Finally featuring some more clear piano arrangements, My Dear Love Part 1 is the one track that doesn’t have an electronic or ambient vibe to it; a simple vocal piano piece, it forces you to focus on the vocal melodies and lyrics.

The titular track of the album, A Lost Light, features Motte and while having a mid-range runtime, feels the shortest of the lot. Perhaps due to the high pace drum beat creating a false idea of where the track begins. The album ends on My Dear Love Part 2, with little fanfare.

Overall, the album consists of nine tracks, totaling a 47-minute run-time and thus over 5 minutes each on average. This is good length to the tracks, moving outside of the formulaic structures and basic 3:30 track run times, but the energy doesn’t quite flow as well as would be hoped. The latter half of the album lacks energy, and what parts do have pace and passion, conflict with the rest of the song. Colour Of The Night is the front-runner and the only song that manages to live up to the appeal created by the release of The Greystone. Not so much an album to encourage movement and dancing, instead A Lost Light is a release that aims to get you into a certain state of mind and put you at ease; which it does well.

There is a sense of majesty and wonder conveyed through A Lost Light. An album that focuses on emotional engagement. It's far from perfect, but it's good enough to create a solid fan-base that will no doubt want more.


Review written by Alex Moulton

Rating: ( 4 / 5 )
 

About Pacific Heights

Pacific Heights is the solo project of Wellington-based songwriter and producer Devin Abrams. Best known for the fifteen years he spent as one of the founding members of New Zealand group Shapeshifter, of late Devin's focus has returned to his solo work, heralding the arrival of a new Pacific Heights album titled The Stillness.

The first Pacific Heights album in eight years, The Stillness is a work that pays homage to his musical past while also giving Devin the freedom to present his own vision on progressive electronic music. The album showcases Devin’s incredible knack for transforming the sonic into the cinematic. The rich textures, smoky edges, and flaring electronic surges, coupled with a number of standout guest performances make for a truly breath-taking collection of music.

The album features guest appearances from a small but perfectly formed collection of New Zealand musicians including Deanne Krieg, Jen Turner, Louis Baker and Shaan Singh (Drax Project). "Collaborating with these beautiful and talented people on the album kept me sane at times and provided some refreshing musical perspectives," says Devin.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Pacific Heights

Releases

The Stillness
Year: 2016
Type: Album
In A Quiet Storm
Year: 2008
Type: Album
Borne Together
Year: 2004
Type: Album
Frozen Fears
Year: 2003
Type: Album
The Pacific Heights EP
Year: 2002
Type: EP

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