The wait has not been kind to Lights Out Asia. Arguably, they were once the hottest ticket in a fledgling scene. Now they find themselves running with the pack. Reasons for the prolonged hiatus between their debut, Garmonia, and Tanks and Recognizers are amply documented elsewhere. Dig around if you feel the need. I wouldn't bother. I'm sure LOA themselves would rather draw a line under the matter. And yet we would be churlish to ignore completely the shadow this saga has cast across their second release. Tanks and Recognizers may well be a pretty child, but she sure had a troubled birth.
So we take a step back from the soap opera and ask, what's so different about
this new release? Garmonia twinkled like the little star it undoubtedly
was. Within a microcosm of electronica fans, virtually everybody seemed to
like it. Garmonia delivered sweeping, pleasing compositions.
Would their star falter on Tanks and Recognizers? The answer?
No not really. The new album holds up against its predecessor, neither pushing
the envelope nor lapsing in quality. It is a good record. A nice record. But,
the closest we ever come to anything remotely edgy is the whirling turbine
that marks the start of the epic Spiti Elefas. The rest is as comfy
as a pair of old slippers. Witness the "rock-a-bye baby" music box that is Ring
of Stars moving into decidedly Cure-like melody of Four Square.
This must be the loveliest "difficult" second album in musical history.
If you already like Lights Out Asia, then you already like Tanks and Recognizers.
I just can't help being reminded of the pitiful Stone Roses story. The whole
world waited for what they might do next. Then on the eve of finally releasing
their Second Coming, everyone boarded the good ship Oasis and waved an apathetic
goodbye to their decidedly better forerunners. It wasn't much fun, believe
me. In downtempo terms, Tanks and Recognizers may be a Second Coming of sorts. In Lights Out Asia terms, it's a second helping. Good enough then, but I still await their masterwork.
"With the lights out, it's less dangerous/Here we are now…".