With long overdue releases from Daft Punk and Pretty Lights finally coming to light, this has been quite the summer of high expectations. And both artists share a lot, at least in this writer’s eyes. Both helped shape my love and passion for electronic music very early on, when I began to become consumed by the digital noises they produced and was particularly enticed by the hip-hop crossover of Pretty Lights’ music. Derek Vincent Smith, while he has maintained a rigorous tour schedule, has not produced a full length album in over two years, pouring his work over that time into today’s release A Color Map of The Sun. For some background, Derek travelled the world working with many musicians creating his own samples from jam sessions and instrumentals, making his own vinyl records with the sole purpose of re-sampling it all for this album (which you can listen to on the included second CD). Needless to say, Derek poured his heart and soul into the production of this album and it shows: Not in the immediately apparent sense but in the abstract, intricate and technical sense, whereby listening you can hear a gentle soul feeling the music more than ever hearing it, orchestrating it more than ever producing it.
Anyone who’s ever been to a Pretty Lights’ show knows the large pool of fans he draws from – fans of jam bands, hip-hop, electronic music, indie music, you name it. The diversity of his music, especially over the course of his collection, is largely responsible for that, as throughout his nearly decade-long career he has produced music for the quieter, more instrospective moments of life as well as the more impactful and high-energy ones. And it doesn’t hurt that his shows are always as visually (and aurally) stimulating as the name would indicate. Pretty Lights has almost always produced music that you would be excited to introduce all your friends to, but wouldn’t hesitate to bring it home to mom and dad either. A Color Map of The Sun finds Derek returning to the mellow, hip-hop and soul roots he laid down in all his other full length albums, particularly his 2006 debut Taking Up Your Precious Time and its double-album follow up Filling Up the City Skies.