Lyricist: Aurora Crispin.
Personnel: Aurora Crispin (vocals); Camaron Stephens (guitar, synthesizer, percussion); Christopher Hash (guitar, percussion); Joshua Lindenfelzer (saxophone, synthesizer, drum, percussion); Christopher Sprague (organ, percussion).
Audio Mixers: Christopher Sprague; Josh Roberts .
Recording information: Santo, Oakland, CA (2013-2015).
Oakland-based group Naked Lights drastically changed directions between Chime Grove (originally released as a cassette in 2011, then reworked into an LP in 2013) and 2016's On Nature, evolving from a hazy, Krautrock-inspired psychedelic band to a more urgent post-punk group, with the addition of vocalist Aurora Crispin. The band still has a sprawling, wide-ranging sound, with tracks varying from minute-long frenzied bursts to longer, more hypnotic explorations, but unlike the group's earlier, keyboard-centric zone-outs, there's an emphasis on sharp, charged electric guitars. There's also a heavy dub influence to the group's bass guitars, recalling Jah Wobble's work with or any number of projects affiliated with Adrian Sherwood or Mark Stewart. Certainly female-fronted post-punk bands such as the Slits and LiLiPUT figure into the band's sound, particularly due to Crispin's ecstatic, yelping vocals, as well as a touch of Sonic Youth's early no wave-era recordings. "On Nature" combines a thick bassline and intricate drumming with varying, multi-tracked vocals that sound like different voices speaking throughout the corners of your head. "Hedges" has even more of a delicious bassline, and suspensefully builds up and sustains a strong groove. The group throws in some squealing sax on the brief, abstract "Mechanical Eye" and longer, drum-heavy instrumental "Trepanning," and while it's fair to say there's a free jazz-inspired adventurousness to Naked Lights, their songs still seem deliberate and composed rather than improvised freak-outs. The album seems a little messy and even cryptic at first (particularly on songs like "Pool on a Plate"), but further listening reveals the group's focus and intent, and it ends up being pretty exciting. ~ Paul Simpson