His second EP, Lights, is an entrancing odyssey through the sleep cycle, pouring an ethereal dream-pop fog over mind-bending down-tempo bass grooves. Taking cues from Tycho, Baths and Four Tet, the seven-track effort focuses on aural world-building delicately built brick by brick.
The adventurous but contained record is melodic and gripping all the same, its feet planted firmly on the ground even when its head is up in the clouds. Leadoff “Into the Icefields” builds from a distant ambiance to a synth-driven hook polished with a striking keyboard arrangement. “Normandy” plays like stargazing on a cold night, an immense warble of matter punctuated by hi-hat pops and breathy whispers.
PLSTKNOVA is at ease in that terrain, only occasionally drifting more than driving (“Fields of Indigo”), but it’s when Strange deconstructs hip-hop hooks into minimalist indie-pop configurations that he really shines.
“YS,” “Alone with You” and “Look at Yrself” have the makings of club bangers before evolving into rich, rhythmic entries in the vein of Clams Casino and Ryan Hemsworth.
“Sundrops” acts as the highlight, shifting from piano ballads to shivery dubstep drops and theatrical indie rock, the EP’s brightest, biggest and most fearless moment. It’s a fully realized composition plucked from deep within the subconscious, a place Lights so frequently reaches.
Lights is available for free at plstknova.bandcamp.com. — Joshua Boydston