Forget the Mantra
The album deals with themes of anxiety, fear and the limits of concentration. Therein, it mines Hartley's personal history as often as it does influences The Beach Boys, The Traveling Wilburys and Hawkwind. Side A pulses with layers of tom tom drums on wide-open standout slow jam "300 Clouds" and nimbly-picked acoustic melodies on "Suzerain (A Letter to the Judge)," like Crosby, Stills & Nash gone comsic-kraut. The songs roll and gallop then stop to breathe, always exhaling with what sounds like a thousand voices. Through its experimental back half -- reminiscent of Bowie's Low or Kate Bush's "The Ninth Wave" from Hounds of Love -- full of vocal samples from Hartley's real life, the more pop-leaning front end is given greater context, like a close study of a plant's blossom before traveling down through its root architecture.
Hartley, who for years has been a prolific sideman in many Philadelphia ensembles (most notably The War on Drugs), laid these songs to tape on a Tascam 388 insularly over several months, inviting friends along for feedback and ultimately, some additional tracking.
"There are degrees of warmth...and Philadelphia musician Dave Hartley's Nightlands project sounds like it was recorded in a hearth...Hartley's music seeps out and fills spaces, combining the kind of expansive resonance found in Mercury Rev's Deserter's Songs with Beach Boys-like vocal arrangements..." - Pitchfork
(SC229 released: 11/09/10)