[Review: Nite Lite, ‘Megrez’]

Buffal0-based label Desire Path Recordings‘s latest release Megrez, by Portland-based duo Nite Lite, is a fitting addition to the label’s young, but steadily growing and always stellar catalog. The vinyl-only release (limited to 300 copies) shares many qualities with previous releases by the label, i.e. inventive use of field recordings, re-configurations of spacial reality through sound, and subconsciousness ruminations explored via collage. Thus, Megrez serves to further elucidate what seems to be Desire Path’s emerging ethos.

Listeners will recognize many of the sounds that were collected via field recording for this record. None of them are unique or uncanny, instead they are all echoes of what is ignored or hardly noticed everyday by everyone. Similarly to Mira Calix’s utilization of natural organic sounds to weave weird rhythmic tapestries, Phillip and Myste French of Nite Lite (who were formerly the masterminds behind the now defunct, but still revered Stunned Records) use those same type of sounds to remarkable effect but in a subtler, quieter way more in the vein of Australian duo Solo Andata (also on the Desire Path roster).

The sounds here, for the most part, are naked or– in audio production terminology—dry, meaning very little manipulation is applied. Now it very well may be that there has been substantial treatment and/or processing of these sounds, but, you see, it doesn’t sound that way to the listener, which is it what makes it impressive. Instead of obliterating their pristine field recordings with tidal waves of delay, or avalanches of artificial reverb, or mountains of mangled modulation, Nite Lite–in John Cage’s immortal words—“let sounds be themselves.” The duo’s creative contribution comes in the skillful arraignment of the sounds into eerie soudscapes of the subconscious. Ducks, footsteps, overpasses, human voices, clicking, clapping, clucking, and more all blend and fold into one another until an orchestra of mostly mundane worldly sounds is made into a magnificent audio mosaic.

Is there something that the duo is implying by presenting this seemingly random juxtaposition of organic clatter? Perhaps, like the universe we inhabit, what may on the surface appear as random clatter is in fact ordained by skillful unseen hands revealed only in brief moments that can easily be missed. This is just one of many interpretations that Megrez will perhaps suggests to its attentive listeners.

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Review by Taylor Waite

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