Ambient electronic music is particularly adept at evoking empty cityscapes from the ghostly isolationism of Burial to the brutalist architecture of early Detroit Techno. The hypnotic, repetitive rhythms seem to speak of vast underground engines, hidden infrastructures, while synthesizers sound more like distant air raid sirens or prehistoric birds than musical instruments much of the time.
Light, AL, the exquisite debut LP by The Stripper Logic, imagines what a desolate cityscape might sound like in some distant galaxy, as it's slowly re-absorbed by Day-Glo jungles and inhabited by colossal beasts.
Album opener "Dorian Grey" comes on like the sunrise with gentle, ebbing synths wavering like a heat mirage, and sea spray is looped into a hissy rhythm. You'll practically taste the salt spray on your lips. This floating ambiance continues for a short while, with a powerful, piston-like beat coming towards the end, letting you know this is not going to be merely a head nodding, eye-slitted floating ambient record.
Analog ambiance meeting strong, stomping beats are pretty much the prototype for The Light Al's, as the album's nine tracks flip between these two polarities. The result is both soothing as well as exciting, thanks predominantly to the beats. The beats deserve an honorable mention here, as The Light AL's are exceptional. The kicks thud like cannon fire without overwhelming the mix, while hi-hats are welded into levitating scrap metal sculptures; Trap Music as High Art.
Fans of new wave grime, a la Jlin or Baauer are going to flip for this record, as will fans of Ambient Techno like Loscil, Monolake, or Gas/Wolfgang Voigt.
There are a few moments that break the transportive spell, like the otherworldly house music of "A Thousand Years" whose plastic piano chords sound straight out of an Orbital single in the early '90s, sounding much more conventional and harsh on the ears than the rest of the record. These foibles are fleeting and easily overlooked from a new band. The Stripper Logic is a transcontinental collaboration, splitting its time between Atlanta, NYC, Philadelphia and Budapest. Clearly, they're a devoted band of sonic alchemists, going to great lengths to weave their alien worlds.
Light, AL is a nigh-on perfect ambient electronica album, being both imaginative and exploratory, as well as gently driving.
The next time you need a soundtrack for exploring a city being slowly swallowed by giant leathery vines, throw on Light, AL and get lost.
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