On first listen to the latest album by electronic compositional prodigy dep, it might be tough to hear where the electronica is. We Are the Lights That Will Not Go Out seems like it’s largely a rock ensemble album by a full band, but it is in fact all put together and performed by one producer, Danny Peck. That’s the trick, here: a multi-genre comprehensive work done mostly with electronic production and made to sound like shoegazey rock; and it is magnificent.
While this might be some of his first exposure to the larger EDM world, Peck as dep is already known to producer and composer circles as an authority on electronic music. He’s had a TEDx talk about the structure and composition of electronic music, and he’s affiliated with the Moog synthesizer family, having performed at Bob Moog’s own house recently. He’s put out a full 23 releases since 2015 of all different styles and genres, including folk and classical. He’s a composer in every sense of the word, and it seems the only thing that limits what he can do in the electronic medium is his own imagination.
We Are the Lights That Will Not Go Out is meant as an album to be its own composition as its style is cohesive and ensemble-like even though dep is the only one performing. It does have lots of analog instruments that perform the rock bits, but everything is layered and tied together with electronic production techniques. The album also always has a hefty dose of ambient wave sounds moving and swirling around the main musical action, but by the end of the album it seems like the ambient music is actually the more dominant theme.
To say this album is well-put together is an understatement. Its composition and emotive musical combinations have probably not even been experienced before and won’t be since. The closest descriptor to the quality found in We Are the Lights That Will Not Go Out is M83, but even there the mixing of genres and diversity doesn’t come close. The whole album is goosebump-inducing, but some highlights are album opener “Inhale, Exhale” with its heavy and evocative guitar work (think is Van Halen had more soul), “We Won’t Give Up,” a more sparse track musically but with no less emotive sound design and industrial-inspired album closer “We Know The Way.” The last of these is probably the most aligned with EDM as it has a recognizable industrial beat in the intro and some 80s-like synths, but it doesn’t stay that way. The body of the track is done as full on wall-of-sound rock, and it’s a wonderful end to such an emotional and well-composed album.
The different kinds of electronic music are really not so different, but the difference between producers can be vast. What pushes EDM forward, even though it may not seem so, is these experimental electronic composers, scientists and producers who come up with different ways the electronic medium can be used. For those electronic music fans who want to learn about these cutting-edge engineers, dep is definitely one to watch.