Wires & Lights: A Chasm Here And Now (Oblivion, 2019)
Wires & Lights finally debuts with A Chasm Here And Now, a remarkable album that confirms the enthusiasm generated by their first demo.
It’s been 7 years since Justin Stephens released The Final Act (2012), the album that recapitulated the achievements of his previous band Passion Play. After the farewell concert in 2013 during the Wave Gotik Treffen, we had to wait another year to get a clue about their new plans. Taking advantage of the release of the compilation Pagan Love Songs Vol.3 (2014), Wires & Lights made themselves known with a first track, Swimming, which sounded damned good for a demo.
Even before the release of that demo, Wires & Lights made a live debut with The Fair Sex (Pagan Love Songs – 15th Anniversary Celebration), counting only with Justin regarding the members of Passion Play. The new musicians (Ralf Hünefeld – guitar/synth; Gabriel Brero – bass; and Sebastian Hilgetag – drums) come partially from Frank The Baptist, with whom Justin collaborated on As The Camp Burns as a singer for choirs and also as a producer.
The abyss up to date
A Chasm Here And Now has been very well received by German DJs and distributors (reaching number 1 on the Deutsche Alternative Charts for three weeks in a row), and is actually not that far from what we heard on Passion Play. It could be argued that the latter had a more twilighty, melancholic sound on some tracks, but the presence of the bass and the catchy, rhythmic character were already there. In theory they have gone from gothic rock/new wave to post punk… In practice, both groups have a good handful of hits to get you up and dancing with teenager euphoria.
The first two tracks we find are a direct proof of that energy. Drive starts with a catchy, insistent bass riff, accompanied by the drums at a quite up-tempo. Justin’s voice and guitar bring more ambience, and when the latter explodes, the apogee is reached… You know what you have to do now! An addictive theme, that does not falter and with a good guitar ending.
Mojo is still intact in Swimming, which follows the same structure, with an indispensable bass that takes over the tune. Justin brings all his charisma with a voice that also marks rhythmically the way and that culminates with a scream in a spectacular end. Comparing to the demo, the voice of the album version is less produced, with less effects, and the instruments sound a little more organic and direct; a good evolution, although at the beginning it is difficult to get used to it.
Anyone opens the album to calmer territories, in a track with ethereal and reverberant voices; 24H also follows the mid-beat tonic but sounds more powerful; Controller:Resistor, a song with simple development, stands out towards its end with bass, guitars and Justin’s voice; Dead To Us, the calmest and most introspective one according to its loss subject, stands out for a beautiful ending that develops without haste; Electric rekindles the mood with a drum set of tribal reminiscences, atmospheric keyboards and a bass that brings consistency like a beam; and Going, Going, Gone, in which the guitar arpeggios initiate the track, the primitive rhythm imposes itself on its equator and the voice introduces a more intense ending (the band’s trademark), guitars included.
Two songs stand out from this mid-beat collection: Cuts, for the game between minimalist percussion and Justin’s compelling voice, in a song that would have left a mark on Valencian nightclubs in their most sinister and eighties era; and Sleepers, the third single presented by the band and equally addictive for its melodies, thanks above all to the voices both in the verses and in the choruses.Regarding the lyrics, it’s a pleasure to see in the band’s profile that they have a clearly progressive orientation, in a world that is becoming more and more closed and selfish, both on the part of the oppressors (as in Cuts) and those who lose their class consciousness (Sleepers, Anyone). There is also space for personal experiences, including mental conflicts (Controller:Resistor), losses of loved ones (Dead To Us) or tools to manage depression (Drive).
A Chasm Here And Now deserves full well a place on your shelf (or hard drive). As seen in the promotional photos, the CD version (by Oblivion label) seems to have a very careful digipack format, including a booklet. Our copy is on its way! We just hope to be lucky enough to see them live at the WGT… Or is it too far-fetched to expect them to come to Spain?