Continuing the tradition of previous Nightlands releases Forget the Mantra (2010) and Oak Island (2013), I Can Feel the Night Around Me showcases Hartley's ability to layer his voice and conjure some of the most beautiful virtual choirs in modern music. Take album opener and lead single “Lost Moon.” The synths and vocal stacks echo through a canyon illuminated by the light of a billion stars -- gaze up long enough and you can make out the shapes of All Things Must Pass, The Beach Boys' Friends and Hiroshi Satoh's That Boy.
In reality, though, the song was written and recorded in an unheated warehouse basement during a record-setting blizzard. “The dissonance between the sound of the album and the atmosphere in which it was recorded is actually pretty striking,” Hartley admits. Indeed, the music seems more geographically inspired by the microclimates of the Lost Coast than the post-industrial cityscape of North Philadelphia.
I Can Feel the Night Around Me uses meticulous choral arrangements and wistful major-seventh chords to evoke a longing for a future that once lay ahead, but has drifted out of reach. Where should a rational man turn when the world seems so increasingly senseless? For Hartley, the answer is a retreat from the cold static of modern life and into the warmth of love and protection.
Hartley has been a fixture in Philadelphia's music scene for a decade and a half. He has performed his songs as a taut four-piece, a twelve-piece ensemble with a choir and as a one-man-band. Between tours he wrote and performed an original score to Stanley Kubrick's opus “2001: A Space Odyssey” and remains a prolific collaborator with artists including Sharon Van Etten, Carter Tanton, Torres, Steven A. Clark, Alela Diane, The Dove & the Wolf, amongst others.
The Nightlands live band is Dave Hartley on vocals and guitar, Anthony LaMarca (The War On Drugs, Dean & Britta) on drums, Eliza Hardy Jones (Strand of Oaks, Grace Potter an the Nocturnals) on keys and vocals, Jesse Hale Moore on keys and vocals and Scott Churchman (Chubby Checker) on bass
Hartley’s side-project (with cameos by all his TWOD bandmates) is a winning collection of endearingly eggheaded, Eno-esque art pop with no end of soft-rock flair. Catnip for anyone who ever wished Peter Cetera would record an album for Warp.
Hartley's music seeps out and fills spaces, combining the kind of expansive resonance found in Mercury Rev's Deserter's Songs with Beach Boys-like vocal arrangements
Unguarded, idyllic, and often pastoral, the songs are full of earthy instruments and layers of harmony that are refracted through watery reverb to excellent effect.