Solar-Powered Sounds

| 11 Nov 2014 | 02:11

      MOTION TO REJOIN, Brightblack Morning Light’s third full-length record, evokes distant vistas and communion with nature far from the distractions of modern life. It calls to mind haunting wide-open spaces, with its two creators, Nathan “Naybob” Shineywater and Rachael “Ra Ra” Hughes, basking under the glow of the moon, dreaming up shimmery musical offerings for the world.

    The album’s title refers to the back-tothe-land movement, and like their 1960s countercultural counterparts, Hughes and Shineywater fully embrace the philosophy, having lived off the grid on a New Mexico mesa 9,000 feet up for almost three years, with four solar panels powering their home recording.

    “There were times when the sun never came out, and we had no electricity,” says Shineywater via phone, as he travels by van from Denton,Texas, to Austin, the next stop on the band’s tour. “It changes things.You start looking at the sun and going ‘You’re out, you’re going to give me energy to do this.’”

    Being out on that mesa seems to have taken Hughes and Shineywater farther away from civilization than ever, with a lo-fi recording that sounds of another time: Its crisp crackles and subtle buzz produce a loose, live vibe that would likely be erased from more technologically advanced record- ings.Though the band has never been able to afford traditional studios, relying instead on “nomadic sound engineers,” this is the first full album BBML has recorded at the adobe.

    The homespun atmospherics of the album are indicative of the group’s down-toearth aesthetics.The fuzzed out, reverberating voices of Shineywater and Hughes combine for a psychedelic lullaby wrapped in layers of warm vintage keyboards, subtle percussion and soothing guitar and vibraphone.

    And contributions from a number of friends, including trombonist Matthew Davis, saxophonist Stuart Bogie and singing sisters Ann and Regina McCrary, lay down soulful undertones.

    For each of its live performances, the band undergoes a metamorphosis, and at the New York performances (two official and a third “unannounced” secret show), Hughes and Shineywater will play with Davis and drummer Peter Townsend, as well as local flute players and the McCrary sisters.

    But regardless of whom Shineywater and Hughes perform with, their hypnotic recordings and enchanting live shows are imbued with the sort of wonder that comes from spending the vast majority of their time in the wilderness. And Shineywater’s unending fascination with the simultaneous simplicity and expansiveness of life has obvious impacts on his approach to music, as signified by the band’s name. “I’m just infatuated by how we’re spinning around at 144,000 miles per hour right now.We’re all standing still and it’s blue, and at night it’s black,” Shineywater says. “I can’t get over it. It’s a magical thing. It freaks me out.”

    -- Brightblack Morning Light Nov. 17, (Le) Poisson Rouge, 158 Bleecker St. (betw. Sullivan & Thompson Sts.), 212-796-0741; 7, $13. Also at Southpaw, Nov. 18. --