From his auto-correct baiting name to his meme-tastic Twitter feed (currently named ‘the official account of the band autechre’), it’s obvious that Cork-based producer Lighght doesn’t take himself too seriously. Or rather, he takes making his music seriously, but everything else related to it is shot through with a self-deprecating sense of humour. His track titles are clearly designed to appeal to music writers who are faced with a tricky word count; equally, he’s released some of his most dancefloor-focused work during a global pandemic which has ushered in around 15 months of – at the most – pushing back the sofa and sticking on the stereo to have a disappointing rave for two people – rather than the parties he was no doubt anticipating: if you don’t laugh at this state of affairs, you’ll cry.
It’s this melancholy that pervades Holy Endings. There’s scarcely a beat to be found here, the memes and the jokey titles have been put to one side: instead, Lighght has produced a bleak electro-acoustic work that is a perfect summation for life in early 2021. We may go back to dancing like loons to music that clatters along with drums sounding like dustbin lids, but that is still some way off. So we’re presented with fragile loops of tuned percussion, understated keyboard patterns, recordings of half-heard conversations, and a bedrock of urban-sounding field recordings. Rather than putting a microphone by a river or some trees, it sounds as if Lighght records the echoes of subway tunnels, trains clattering on rails, the random clanks heard on an industrial estate. It certainly positions Holy Endings as the sound of late-night city life, although it’s not comparable to, say, Burial’s wide-eyed and woozy trips under orange street lights. This is closer to bombing out to a McDonald’s before they close, eating a burger on the edge of town with Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works II playing on the car stereo and then weeping to yourself that this is the most exciting thing you’ve done all week.
Having been familiar with Lighght’s rave-centric EPs, the atmosphere and ambience of Holy Endings came as a surprise, but it is a change of approach that makes a lot of sense. There’s no crowds, no dancing, very little time spent with friends at the moment so, in a way, this is the perfect encapsulation of lockdown life – streets and buildings echo more because there are fewer people to absorb the sound, crashes and bangs are more surprising because they are less frequent, conversations can only be heard from a distance because, what are you going to do, approach a group of strangers? So this is virtually documentary music-making, a snapshot in time. It’s a stylistic leap from his previous EPs, although plenty of producers have been able to shift from one genre to another, few have been able (or needed) to create such an insular and cohesive world as a response to the external environment. Holy Endings is a timely and brilliant work, although I hope that Lighght can return to the pounding BPMs and silly track titles soon; there is a lighght at the end of the tunnel. (Jeremy Bye)