From Long Beach, California, Highlands announce the July 15 release of their second album, Dark Matter Traveler.
Named for the Scottish Highlands and rooted in a love of Creation Records bands like Slowdive and Ride, Highlands might be Anglophiles but they are Southern Californians too. Like the Golden State itself, Dark Matter Traveler is a glorious confluence of forces: a surface of beauty and calm, barely shrouding an underbelly of darkness and unease. The tension therein makes Dark Matter Traveler the thrilling flight that it is. Spine-tingling hooks glide atop metronomic beats while dissonant layers confuse and subvert. Frontman Scott Holmes’ otherworldly vocals blanket the mix from above, thick as LA smog.
For the production of Dark Matter Traveler, the band chose longtime friend Rollie Ulug, known within the SoCal hardcore scene for his work as producer with such bands as Graf Orlock and Dangers. The album was mastered by J.P. Bendzinski of the band Crystal Antlers. The cover art is a painting by the late Yan Burdzinski, an LA artist and surfer memorialized by The Entrance Band in their song, “Hands in the Shape of a Wave.”
Ghettoblaster recently caught up with Highlands’ Stephen Edmunds to discuss three songs that influenced the album. This is what he told us.
Spiritualized, “Shine a Light”
As far as perfect songs go this one pushes itself into the upper echelon of all time greats for us. Jason Pierce is our Lou Reed (though all praise to The Velvet Underground). Our musical blueprint was formed by Spacemen 3 and cemented by Spiritualized. When we were in the studio this was the song that we listened to late at night when we were looking for inspiration.
Fuck Buttons, “Stalker”
What has insane layers upon building layers of evil synths, massive bowel contorting bass, and a beat that never gives in? “Stalker,” by Fuck Buttons. This is one of the songs that really made us want to push our sonic limits. We strived to make this record sound like the end of this song. You listen to it and don’t think any stereo headspace could possibly be left until suddenly another level of completely insane distorted synth kicks in and chokes you into oblivion. Fucking amazing!
My Bloody Valentine, “Honey Power”
This is the song that made us want to play even louder. Idol worship cliches aside, this is a great song that always made us want to push things that much more.
(Visit the band here: facebook.com/highlandsband.)