Aaron Coyes and Indra Dunis, who are quick to note that their initials spell out A.C.I.D., have just wrapped their third Peaking Lights record, Lucifer, and moved from Wisconsin to Los Angeles in a station wagon loaded down with hippie shirts and handmade instruments. The pair have been working tirelessly to push their Promethean psych-dub project forward, but today is set aside for birthday party planning. Their son, Mikko, is just about to turn one. Though the married bandmates have been supporting themselves with art for ages, creativity has taken on much larger meaning in their lives lately. “It’s great being able to live on creating with someone you lo-” Coyes starts, but diverts mid-sentence, “Man, I mean, we made a baby together. It’s sorta the ultimate creation!” Deep in parent mode, Peaking Lights are seeing life brand new through infant eyes.
Coyes comes from hot rod people and spent many summers outside of Palm Springs with his grandparents and uncles, knocking around the desert hangar, where they’d shock old dusty choppers and dragsters back to life and polish them up for display between cruises. Now 35 and balding with tattooed hands, the Peaking Lights instrument mason lovingly builds modular synth units from esoteric thrift store electronics. “When my uncles see what I’ve been working on,” Coyes says, “they get so stoked like, Man, that’s some weird shit you’re doing!”
When Coyes met Dunis, a Wisconsin native camped up in San Francisco, he was riding out hardcore punk roots in a goth band, and was still pretty into powerviolence. Dunis was the natural babe drummer for Kill Rock Stars’ living room noise champs, Numbers, and she was an obsessive Polaroid photographer. They were introduced, both were down with magick and Can, some jam-outs happened and love came quick. From that day forward, music was a business of intimate discovery. “We’re in tune,” Dunis says, “It’s a lot more personal now. We focus on each other.”
Lucifer, which is Latin for light-bearer, is a wash of stony Casio soul flourishes and vibey Parisian coos, set adrift on dank, bass-reverb bliss. Not only does it connect Jamaica, California and Cannes in a long overdue erotic handshake, it also marries the spaced-out chaos of Coyes’ surf punk past (and his Frankenstein synths) with Dunis’ tidier, more melodic instincts. It is only natural, given this intercourse, that their son leads Lucifer’s incandescent charge with a cameo on the album.
“It’s basically about exploring the world as a newborn would,” Dunis explains, tentatively decoding Lucifer’s plot, and specifically delving into “LO HI,” a track that features Mikko laughing. “It’s hard to understand what that means until you actually see a child do it. It’s contagious.” She tells the same story plainer and truer on album stand-out “Beautiful Son,” when she sings, Open your eyes/ Belly laugh/ Fill my heart. Despite its earnestness, Lucifer is not a baby album. Being a baby doesn’t feel like sunbathing on Klonopin. Lucifer is a being born album. Hand-crafted, from the mix right down to the instruments, it’s an expression of the orgasmic satisfaction of pure creation. And coming from two mystic weirdos, back in California because they missed the ocean, enraptured and exhausted by the early morning light of their little boy’s life, a more honest sound is hard to imagine.
Stream: Peaking Lights, Lucifer