On July 2, 2013, not one but two new Pretty Lights albums were released: A Color Map of the Sun and its essential companion, Live Studio Sessions From A Color Map of the Sun.
The first Pretty Lights efforts to be sold commercially after a series of acclaimed free-download albums and EPs, the Color Map project represents a turning point in Pretty Lights mastermind Derek Vincent Smiths artistic growth. A self-professed sample collage artist, Smith decided it was time to create his own.
Before, Id combine 25 samples into one song, he explains. This time, I was going to create my own original sources, retaining the timbre that spans the great musical era of the last century from modern classical and jazz, to 60s soul and beyond.
This idea sent Smith into an intensely laborious, obsessive, ambitious creative process. Where so much of todays music is created entirely in the box using digital plug-ins, Smith went totally analog recording musicians direct to tape (including himself on bass, keys, and modular synths), using authentic vintage instruments, pressing the results onto vinyl. He then fashioned those sounds into two visionary works.
A Color Map
finds Smith taking Pretty Lights trademark combo of gritty, crate-digging hip-hop, speaker-shredding digital thump, and instrumentally-based psychedelia to new heights over 13 songs from the dance-floor-ready yet kaleidoscopically abstract Prophet to the syncopated funk of the Talib Kweli-driven single Around The Block.
Live Studio Sessions
, meanwhile, boils down the raw material used to create the tracks on A Color Map
, reducing 30 minute jams into 4 minute breaks. Its all part of the multifaceted creativity that the albums titles suggest a reference to a 1670s-era essay by Isaac Newton describing the experiments that led to his discovery of visible lights color spectrum.
What Newton evoked I found especially poetic and beautiful, Smith explains. It fit what the name Pretty Lights is supposed to embody the idea of an artistic eye always looking at the world, searching for beauty and new inspiration.
Pretty Lights is the musical vision of the ultra-versatile Colorado based producer Derek Vincent Smith. At a time when music lovers from almost all subcultures and genres are finding common ground in the basic form of bangin' beats, Pretty Lights is giving the people what they want: electro organic cutting-edge party rocking beats that fill venues with energy and emotion and send dance floors into frenzies. And the people are responding. Pretty Lights has given away more than 2.6 million free album downloads to date and averages 20,000 paid iTunes downloads each month.
All Pretty Lights music is available for FREE download via PrettyLightsMusic.com