Dead Light’s sound is a transition and a new beginning. It all started when Anna Rose Carter and Ed Hamilton decided to move away from London, a city that had been home for so long, relocating instead to a quiet, remote place in the countryside. Change is a constant, but this was the beginning of a new period; as such, rebirth and renewal surrounds Dead Light. Out of the urban jungle, its gridlocks and its districts, the music has relocated, too. Its new home is a rural, picturesque landscape. But with the claiming of a new space comes the loss of what once was, of another adored and cherished life. Friends are separated by longer distances, and a settling in period is needed in order to readjust. Uncertainties and challenges are hidden under the belly of the music, but the piano has been versed in serenity and her calm mind is still assured of itself.
Peach and amber notes flutter upwards and float downwards like butterfly confetti, but the screeching strings of ‘Slow Slowly’ really pick up on the uncertain mood. The piece starts off with a beautiful piano melody, but the track seems to be split into two.
The growing tension is only relieved by the piano’s soft and calming resolution. The strings are screaming; it’s the splintering and subsequent dislocation of a place you’ve known for so long. Only broken memories are left.
Recorded at Pie Corner between September 2014 and May 2016, Dead Light is a record entangled in the throes of change and bittersweet endings, but it’s also a sound that looks towards a new future with hope. They are both establishing a sound in an unfamiliar place, setting feet on solid ground in a place that camouflages itself as a new home. Classical instrumentation gives way to the modern – tape loops of cello phrases are reborn for a digital age, relayed and fed through reel-to-reel machines, and an old piano, given to Anna by her grandfather, still sings a sweet, bright and hopeful sound. Other artifacts include 1950’s tube pre-amps, old Russian microphones and daisy-chained tape delays; sitting alongside these are homemade synthesizers and hydrophones, which were placed in trays of ice and then left to freeze and thaw. The treated tape has been experimented on, warped by prolonged exposure to sunlight and drowned in vinegar solution.
Brighter beams of late A.M. sunshine peek through the gaps in the keys, bringing an uplifting optimism as the piano’s illuminated in a glowing light. An ambient, treated and looped vocal on ‘Sleeper’ is a sojourn into serenity where, for a while, all is well. But the string sections dampen the sunny optimism, replacing it with a heavy dose of reality and the burdens of settling in. Dead Light’s mood swings from side to side. The bright smile of ‘Trills’ is twisted in the transition to the uncertain ‘Broods And Waits’, and this piece places more strain on the recording – those shallow waters of hope are running dry here, and the piano starts to wither. The delay is a recurring theme, like a fond memory stuck in a wishful replay. The pale fire keeps on burning. Change can’t be avoided, so it’s a refreshing jolt to see Dead Light not only inviting change, but ultimately embracing what is new, turning it into home.