By Alan Weeks, howiGit Music Writer, Boston, MA
This is the first installment of a column that I will be writing about music that you aren’t listening to, but should be. The column will aptly be called “What You Aren’t Listening To, But Should Be” — quite original, I know. If you are listening to whatever I’m highlighting already, good for you, I don’t really care. This column is for the unenlightened. No Lil’ John, no 50 Cent, no Dirty Diddy Money, just music, old and new that everyone who has ears should hear. So plug in and tune out.
This week, what you should be listening to is Pretty Lights. Pretty Lights is a DJ from Colorado. His real name is Derek Vincent Smith, and he is assisted on stage by Adam Deitch. The catchy name comes from a Pink Floyd poster that says “Come and watch the pretty lights!”
Pretty Lights uses digital sampling like all DJs. For all of you tech savvy listeners, his sound is generated by synthesizing samples and organic beats using the monome and the Akai MPD32. He then uses these digital controllers with Ableton Live 8. What sets Pretty Lights apart from acts like DJ Shadow and Benny Benassis is his choice in sampling. You have classic rock, jazz, blues, funk, and classical music, all mixed up into a glitchy, hip-hop driven synth roller coaster. Most importantly, his mixing is flawless; every musical hole is filled beautifully. He truly is a master of his art. His beats are sure to get any party, and I mean ANY party moving. Pretty Lights is becoming a bigger deal everyday, so get on the bandwagon before he is so popular that it is uncool to like him. Any of his three albums or three EPs are gold, but I would suggest Filling Up The City Skies as a good starting point. Check out the tracks “Hot Like Sauce,” and “The Time Has Come,” if you are looking to get hooked immediately. Oh! I forgot the kicker — all of his music is free to download, because he is a real musician who cares about being heard and not being paid. Grab all of his albums in seconds at www.prettylightsmusic.com. Enjoy the site’s artwork, and just click “downloads.” It truly is everything you would want from a DJ, rapper, and an 80’s prog rock band, all in one.