There aren’t many words that would cover the most recent work of Philadelphian multi instrumentalist David Hartley. His new project as Nightlands is as ambitious as a man on a tall mountain or a boat in a churning sea. This one man creates a liquid landscape that has his voice coming from every direction but the ground. Hartley’s choruses of himself peek out of the clouds and across the seas with the boat in it and down the mountains with the man on it to bring literally eye-popping power to you. Mine widened a bit after hearing/seeing this:
And the voices/instruments really are choirs of himself. Hartley does EVERYthing on the wonderful Forget the Mantra, which was released just this past November on Secretly Canadian Records. The results being “a field recording of Hartley’s dreams – a travel journal through pop music and a collection of psych-hymns from the first human lunar colony”. And You may already know Hartley; he’s been part of several bands including BC Camplight, Buried Beds, The Lindsey Buckingham Appreciation Society and most notably – War on Drugs, which also has a new release on Secretly Canadian as well.
The whole record is a fantastic listen, especially if you’re ready to just sit back and relaaaaaax. You’ll be warm and cozy by the end of it. There are some home recordings (all from Hartley’s own life) towards the conclusion; dated omniously in their titles. I think though, that they’re only there as time markers (1969, 1993, 2010), to let you know when the journey through the continuum has dropped you off.
You might be tempted to declare this another Chillwave entry and skip on merrily by. It can certainly have that effect. But the string work (harps, mandolins, banjos, guitars) will ground you with something familiar surrounding you. You might feel like it’s a Fleet Foxes debut (“Suzerain”) or a Kate Bush homage (“A Walk in Cheong, 1969”) and maybe even a Beach Boys tribute (“’Til I Die”). Hartley has flipped, layered and relayered every inch of Forget the Mantra until it’s a blissed out explosion of light and sound. And you’ll only sigh and smile. It’s really REALLY really that good.
[Buy Forget The Mantra]