Who died? Perhaps I should not have asked that question. Tired/Rest is a short but ambitious concept album, bearing titles such as “Passing Away” and “Hospital”. The four tracks are divided into two parts, and each track into separate sections, nineteen in all, bearing their own titles, including “If Everyone Died Alone”, “Outside the Waiting Room”, “I’ve Lost Everyone”, and the morbid “…” The music is forlorn, tender, thoughtful, grief-stricken. So – who died?
Apparently, no one. According to All Lights (Luke Martin), the album is about the little mental deaths of college, the old discarded selves, the attempts to avoid vicious cycles and to grow. You could have fooled me; okay, you did fool me. But congratulations, Mr. Martin, because your music makes me believe you. Sure, there’s one indulgence, a Donnie Darko sample, but it’s not the bunny one; instead, it’s a deeper series of philosophical questions regarding theology and hope.
Leaving both stories behind is recommended, because they interfere with the music. Strip away all thoughts of hospitals and colleges, and a deeper, more relatable album emerges. Tired/Rest may be a concept album, but it’s more effective when the listener determines the concept. Remove track titles and separations, and the whole flows beautifully. At times the guitar rises with momentary energy; at times it descends into a plume of dust. Echoed voices are clothes in cloaks of reverb. This sounds less like rest than restlessness: the insomnia that comes from being bone-tired, on the edge of defeat. And yet, whenever Martin’s guitar sheds the reverb, dancing on the edge of the acoustic, it’s as if a new clarity has formed, a morning after revelation. Despite rousing, there’s no catharsis; mountains are climbed, but not conquered. Sometimes, it’s simply enough to go farther than the last attempt.
All Lights seems headed for a bright career in the ambient/drone arena, although Tired/Rest provides hints that a rock or post-rock career may not be out of the question. The emotion of the performance, the sensitivity to volume and variance, and the album’s sense of forward movement are signs of an instinctive talent. The best piece of advice we can give is not to surround this instrumental music with so many words; it’s strong enough to speak for itself. (Richard Allen)