Album Review: Pretty Lights – A Color Map Of The Sun

What is the future of electronic music? If Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories was any indication of the direction electronic music is taking, then Pretty Light’s latest release, A Color Map of the Sun is simply a confirmation. And what direction is that, you ask? Quite simply, it is a truer combination of analog electronica than ever before.

A concept not unfamiliar in the electronic scene, analog electronica has been tried time and time again, combining analog elements, such as live instrumentation, to an electronic core, notably with heavy production. However, this balance is very difficult to measure; too much of one thing over another, and something just doesn’t feel right about it. [give example here, “but that’s best left for another post”].

But here’s where Pretty Lights does something great: what if you could create an album that’s both 100% live instrumentation AND 100% production? What Pretty Lights has done is taken the time to focus all his energy on first composing and arranging music, and then worry solely about editing, producing, and otherwise being the electronic artist we’ve known him to be.

In order to best understand the process he used to create Color Map, watch the documentary on making the album. It’s a 30-minute video that will quickly inspire to you to do something creative with your life. To quickly summarize (but not replace watching) the video, Mr. Lights spent a whole year recording music in both Brooklyn and New Orleans to create actual vinyl records which sound like they came from the 60’s and 70’s blues, funk, and jazz eras. He then spent the following year doing what Pretty Lights does best: sampling, editing, and producing the wax out of them. And that’s why this album matters. It was a creative project (from the word “create”) from start to finish.

To better understand, watch this short video showing what he did for one of his tracks:

And you can hear that start-to-finish in the music. The drums start the album with a jazzy trip-hop groove, and intensify little by little into more hip-hop sounding, climaxing with a harder dubstep-inspired rhythm (hear track “Prophet”), and cooling off back to trip-hop. The same goes for the basslines, getting harder and harder until climax and relaxing towards the end. Synth edits and effects also become more prevalent towards the end until the last track or two, where everything seems to cool off. It should go without saying, but this album is all about the journey, be it concerning the recording and production process, or concerning the actual music and truly seeing a color map of the sun.

Oh and don’t worry, once you’re back down to earth, this man was nice enough to provide you with not only the album tracks, but also an extra hour of some of the live recording sessions. Be sure to listen to those tracks with a bottle of wine and a date. Thank me later.

As always, Pretty Lights is giving out his album to the masses. Get your copy here.

The following two tabs change content below.


Music Curator at WMC 24/7
It was another late April night aboard the cruise ship, and 15 year old Jose Maestri found himself talking to the DJ onboard. The conversation took a turn to the musical side, and lo, the young boy's life would be forever changed. He is excited to share what he's found in his musical travels, and invites all to join him in his never-ending quest to find the greatest music created by and known to man. And with that, he wishes you peace. love. music. always.