Eat Lights Become Lights: Modular Living

Heavenly avantronica from one-man band.

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Many aspire to the kosmische greatness of the music that poured from Germany in the early 70s, but few do it as persuasively as Neil Rudd. This third album under his ELBL banner, recorded over a two-year stretch in London and LA, finds him building on the instrumental giddiness of 2012’s Heavy Electrics.

Cue synthetic riffs, sweeping electronic rhythms and a procession of loops and effects. But what sets Rudd apart is his artful balance of melody and drone, bringing a rich fullness to urgent gems like Chiba Prefecture or near-celestial Habitat ‘67. At times, as on Los Feliz To Griffith, he affects an ambient kind of chorale, running silvery piano lines through a wash of wordless harmonies.

Even his more minimal pieces carry the soulful warmth of Another Green World-era Eno or modern Manc duo, Marconi Union. He’s a man who wears his influences proudly: the soft pulse of Tangerine Dream, the blissed-up motorik of Harmonia (most explicitly in the title track and the blinding rush of 13th Looking South…), or the otherworldliness of Vangelis’s Blade Runner soundtrack.

That said, he’s equally aware of the need to transcend them, and he does wonderfully.

Rob Hughes

Freelance writer for Classic Rock since 2008, and sister title Prog since its inception in 2009. Regular contributor to Uncut magazine for over 20 years. Other clients include Word magazine, Record Collector, The Guardian, Sunday Times, The Telegraph and When Saturday Comes. Alongside Marc Riley, co-presenter of long-running A-Z Of David Bowie podcast. Also appears twice a week on Riley’s BBC6 radio show, rifling through old copies of the NME and Melody Maker in the Parallel Universe slot. Designed Aston Villa’s kit during a previous life as a sportswear designer. Geezer Butler told him he loved the all-black away strip.