On their first single, D.C. dance trio consider how to survive in 2017
Photo by Alicia Moyer
Light Beams is the latest project of Justin Moyer – also of D.C. dance hybrid groups E.D. Sedgwick, Puff Pieces, and others – and Sam Lavine, the longtime drummer in hip-hop troupe The Cornel West Theory. Formed in 2015, the group continues Moyer’s musical trademarks established in E.D. Sedgwick, laying down drum and bass dance grooves over which he presents urgent, melodic sermons on a range of topics including his rapidly changing city, celebrity culture, and the weight and anxiety of our modern economic systems. The new band pushes and further develops the sound, though, adding polyrhythms and electronic elements that, in the band’s words, “reinvent late-20th century dance-pop using the tools of the 21st.”
“Feeling Good” is the first single off the band’s upcoming self-titled debut, out September 22 on Don Giovanni Records. Lavine and bassist Arthur Noll are impossibly tight musical veterans, and their performance alone is worth repeated listens. Moyer says the song is one of survival, of striving to continue to exist in an increasingly bleak landscape. He’s not actually feeling positive here, but is fighting hard to get somewhere where he can be. As he explains: “I was working the night shift for about two years about two years ago. Times were not good. I was not sleeping much and, like Jim Morrison, I often contemplated breaking on through to the other side. However, even in that time of crisis, I tried to remember the necessity of keeping a positive mental attitude. In this mission, I mostly failed – but failing at maintaining a positive mental attitude means that you are trying to maintain a positive mental attitude, which means that you are still alive, which is good. Survival is what life is all about.”
In 2017, just about everyone I know can relate to Moyer’s sentiment. Acknowledging that fact is a step toward fighting for a world where we’re doing more than just surviving, and we’ve got to that collectively. But, as Springsteen also wrote almost exactly 40 years ago and Light Beams seems to echo here, “It aint no sin to be glad you’re alive,” and if we’re going to get through our human-made hell that’s something we can never forget.