Trevor Allen, namesake Ample Heights, makes breezy electronic music with a Yamaha NP-30 keyboard and a Studio One digital audio workstation. He mixes everything on headphones out of necessity rather than aesthetic; he freely admits he cannot afford monitor speakers. This creates an interesting listening dilemma: should you listen to this on speakers for a more spacious sound or put on the headphones and hear where Allen was coming from?
Within the first ten seconds of the chilly beats of "Alone,” you know headphones are the way to go. The beats sound better, the music heavier and you start appreciating the tonal qualities of Gritty Lights. Allen's arrangements aren't complicated but they use interesting, up-tempo beat structures that sound Daft Punky at best and familiar at worst. Each song has a futuristic vibe that could be used to score scenes showing space stations or deserts. The synthesizers often fluctuate upon thick bass sounds, but Allen knows when to mix it up, such as on "Gritty Lights,” when he uses graceful piano notes to counter the heavier electronic music going on at the forefront of the song.
It doesn't feel like Allen is doing anything new with his music, but where Gritty Lights excels, and where a lot of electronic albums miss the point of, is it's sequencing: it feels and plays like an actual album. Listened to in order, the tracks steadily gain speed and variety. Each song is progressively more orchestrated to demonstrate Allen's compositional strengths and his willingness to think outside the box. The latter doesn't always work – the receding electronic whoosh familiar to most listeners of this kind of music is used all too often, especially on "Day to Day" where Allen mistakes its effectiveness for annoying repetition – but when it does the music lets the listener in on some very awesome moments. "Sanitizer" is the album's best track that tickles the feet of dubstep while still retaining the gentle musicality that Allen markets for himself on the previous numbers. There is something stripped down about Allen's music that will appeal to fans of electronic tundra soundscapes. There is little to offend here, more to enjoy, and at the end of the day a sound-sculptor can't ask for much more than that.
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