Spotlights Display a Different Side with Their New EP

Four excellent producers reinterpret the sound of Spotlights through an intricate remixing process on Hanging By Faith.

Hanging by Faith EP
15 June 2018

While relatively new to the scene, Brooklyn’s Spotlights bring with them an air of nostalgia for the 2000s. The band released their first single in 2013 entitled “050809”, followed by the Demonstration EP and then their debut record Tidals. While flying under the radar, it was apparent that Spotlights possessed an excellent grasp on the heavy sludge sound with an experimental twist that resonated through the releases of bands like ISIS and Cult of Luna. That caught the attention of Ipecac Records, which soon signed the band and released its sophomore record Seismic. A year after Seismic the band returns with Hanging By Faith, their new EP and quite a surprising release.

The interesting part of this EP is that it features remixes of the original tracks, something that one does not come across many times in heavy music. Exceptions exist, for instance the Oceanic Remixes from ISIS. But here Spotlights give free roam to some intriguing producers, including Aaron Harris (ISIS), Void Manes and Kris Dirksen to reinterpret the band’s music and allow a different side of it to come to light. For this reason, they even allow the producers to provide new titles for the existing tracks, essentially defining them as standalone entities and separating them from the originals.

The aspect that has been significantly boosted in the case of Hanging By Faith is the atmospheric and emotive elements inherent in Spotlights’ music. The sludge vision of “Hang Us All” from Seismic becomes an introspective, electronic driven trip through ethereal synths and mystical realms. Ceremonial percussion and heavy bass add a slice of darkness to the movements, as Kris Dirksen brings to the front the delicate underlying tones of the original track. Similar is the approach that Mario Quintero, vocalist and guitarist of the band, takes with “Ghost of a Glowing Forest”, basing the remix on tempering with various filters. It does an excellent job of separating the low end and high end of the frequency spectrum and allowing these distinct entities to interact with each other. It is another intimate offering that merges the emotive element of the band in the synth lines and processed vocals, with the heavier aspects of noise and abundant bass.

On the other hand, Aaron Harris embraces the minimalistic progression that ISIS displayed in their music and creates a fantastic trip for “A Sudden Violent Movement”. The expansive scope of post-metal and the electronic perspective meet splendidly, as the radiating, sharp synths slowly build up this impressive structure before the drums come in causing the soundscapes to explode around them. The interpretation that best retains the sludge element of Spotlights’ is “Ice Giant”, produced by Void Manes. There is a more old-school element that surrounds this track, with the producer adding psychedelic touches to the heavy track, turning the exceptional “Size of the Planet” into an alien investigation.

The EP closes with “Faith”, the only track that is not a remix. The track follows the same methodology that most of Seismic featured, with Spotlights taking their proper form and allowing the slow, heavy riffs to take over. The psychedelic touch verging on shoegaze adds to this experience through the lead work. Dissonance and melody meet in this process, while the harsh weight of the guitars arrives with an emotional undertone, shaping the band’s vision.

Remixes in heavy music can be tricky, but in this EP each producer was able to uncover a piece of information surrounding Spotlights’ core that remained either hidden or was ambiguous in the band’s true form. Through its 30 minutes, this work explores the band’s identity through a different scope and deconstructs what is so interesting about their sound. The conclusion with “Faith” is then welcome as it appears to put all this information in a condensed form, reintroducing Spotlights.

RATING 7 / 10