A Color Map of the Sun by Pretty Lights

Innocents by Moby


The first release from Derek Vincent Smith’s own artistic stables, it’s rather a futile experiment to attempt to categorize the tunes from within July’s A Color Map of the Sun into a basket or two. To call it an electronic effort for instance, would be akin to referring to Albert Einstein as a scientist; it tells a criminally bare story. For this album is a wonderful collage of various flavours and styles that mesh together to forge a dominant overall experience that doesn’t really demand a nameplate of any kind, so why take the trouble?


#1. Color of My Soul 6:08
#2. Press Pause (with Cold Specks) 4:49
#3. Let’s Get Busy 3:52
#4. Around the Block (feat. Talib Kweli) 4:13
#5. Yellow Bird 5:40
#6. Go Down Sunshine 5:05
#7. So Bright (feat. Eligh) 5:51
#8. Vibe Vendetta 5:24
#9. Done Wrong 6:35
#10. Prophet 5:56
#11. One Day They’ll Know 6:59
#12. Always All Ways 5:32
#13. My Only Hope 4:52
Deluxe Edition:
#14. Where I’m Trying to Go 5:49
#15. All I’ve Ever Known 3:53
#16. Sweet Long Life 5:33


Pretty Lights: Composition, Sampling


Derek Vincent Smith


2nd July, 2013


The critical ingredient that Pretty Lights possesses at this point in his career – just over a couple of years in – is originality. On this particular tracklisting, all of the requisite recordings were initially pressed as samples to vinyl after which they were mixed using modular synthesis, allowing every one of them to emboss their individual identities on the release from start to finish.


Best heard on the quieter specimens in Yellow Bird and Press Pause, the resultant auditory depth that encapsulates his music eventually manages to prove loyal to even some of their counterparts that contain active dubstep elements in them. So Bright at #7 is an obvious shoutout in such a context, but Let’s Get Busy, I’m looking at you too. Around the Block below the latter is yet another enjoyable listen with rapper Talib Kweli complimenting the jazzy, funky hip-hop aura to the hilt.


And what Smith has done best is cunningly avoid the sinkholes that his contemporaries fall into time and time again – I’m pointing a loose finger to the deadmau5s and Skillrexes of this industry who well, all but overkill their product by being repetitive and monotonous, often within the same studio recording or live set. None of that on A Color Map of the Sun. True, much of the outing would largely come off as melancholic to most, but even they would be hard pressed to not spot an uplifting vibe or two in the Done WrongProphet duo toward the latter half, and at the most opportunistic time too. And there are many such nifty, contrasting moments scattered throughout the tracklisting; variety is never in short supply.


I reckon it also helps that the Pretty Lights monicker is yet a rather fresh face to the electronic scene – for most, if not all of his music is available for free listening on his website. This should dampen initial sales in the pursuit of longer term identity, but it increasingly appears to be the path of choice for newer artists for whom the Internet is the sole fuel of choice to power their identity in an increasingly tight rat-race.


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There, we’ve taken advantage of Smith’s generosity by embedding the album in full above. You can begin by giving One Day They’ll Know a spin; at close to seven minutes in length that one comes across as a fusion of a fusion – if you like, and sums up this record better than any critic ever will be able to. Five stars out of five in the meantime.





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