The only prominently available full-length that bears Kate Simko’s name is Music from the Atom Smashers, a hypnotic and specifically not dancefloor-oriented 2009 film score built on trailing ambient forms with crackling electronics. However, the Chicago producer has been active within the dance music community for years, having issued well-received house and techno singles and EPs for a handful of labels such as Ghostly International’s Spectral Sound imprint. For her solo debut, Simko briefly revisits what she called in a Textura interview “making music for picture”, but Lights Out is brimming with sparse club stuff. Disco-flecked grooves and nostalgia for classic house fill the record, with often crisp, live-sounding cymbals peppering each track.
Lights Out is mostly a very minimal event. Nothing flashes about pre-album single “Mind On You”, where vocalist Brenda DeNoto-Gardner sings little more than the track’s title around its glitzy electric piano tones and nudging, no-frills bass line. Well-positioned speakers will offer chilling, percolating moments in “Cairo” and “Mira Vos”, however, both rooted in percussive ticks that mirror the deep title track from the producer’s three year-old She Said EP. Those songs illustrate Simko’s employment of subtle nuances to great effect. While there’s no dearth of energy here, most of Lights Out falls short of demanding multiple listens. It’s good to see that Simko is making dance music again, but the album could use a bit more of her film score flair to break up the tracks that just take too long to move forward.