Almost two years to the day since Xpress first shared news of Electric Dream by Luzius Stone — the project of WNC native Justin Miles — that album finally gets a launch party. It’s been a long time coming. Miles met producer Nicolas Balachandran of Elephantom Studio in 2010 and moved to Germany, where Balachandran was then located, to record an EP. By 2013, it had expanded into a full-length record, with production help from Evan Bradford at Echo Mountain Studios. On Friday, March 20, Luzius Stone will finally take the stage at The Mothlight: “It will definitely be different from any other show,” says Miles. “I want it to be a party.”
The long-awaited release celebration will feature a white décor/black light theme. The audience is invited to dress up: “I want it to be about freedom, about letting go and taking part in the show,” says Miles. Guest artists will include Cliff B. Worsham of RBTS WIN and Tim and Steven Scroggs of The Enemy Lovers. Steven will perform in Miles’ band, as will drummer Towne Mouse, who’ll also open the show.
But while this is the first time Miles has headlined in Asheville, it’s not exactly a debut for Luzius Stone. There have been a few smaller sets here and there, delivering Electric Dream’s rhythmic, lyric-driven songs to local listeners. And the album already has a much broader reach: It was issued online in November through Jamendo. “I did it to see what kind of success I’d have, releasing it for free,” says Miles. Jamendo administrators loved the collection and featured it on the site’s home page. It’s already been downloaded 4,600 times; the track “Fire in the Sky,” a futuristic sonic jolt, has more than 64,000 listens. The Jamendo release also put Miles in touch with an artist manager in France who’s interested in promoting the album.
The songs — from the bracing, The Clash-meets-The Matrix opener “Go” to the uplifting and expressive “It’s On” — ask a listener to take notice. Miles’ sound is pop-informed, but his delivery downplays melody lines in favor of complex textures, kinetic rhythms and front-and-center lyrics. “My first instrument is my voice,” the musician says. “It’s not about making a melody that sounds pretty, but discovering things that move me as I write.”
The album’s name references that spirit of discovery within the creative process: “It’s like electricity, like I’m a conductor for this dream to come through me,” says Miles. “I want to be a good conductor for it, because the light comes on if you’ve got a good conductor.”
Balachandran’s touch as a producer is also evident in Electric Dream’s melodic minimalism, a key element. That’s why “DNA,” with its percussive vocals, combusts and reforms and explodes again, while “Telescope” is starlit, orbiting warm soundscapes. “Reminiscence” is as bullet-riddled as it is dreamy, and the organic-meets-synthetic palette of “Past Life” feels at once personal and anthemic.
Now in Los Angeles, Balachandran is working with power pop outfit We Are Twin, but he and Miles still regularly communicate about new Luzius Stone songs. Miles says he’ll be performing as-yet-unreleased material at his Mothlight show: “The new stuff is more aggressive, more intense,” he says. “I’m always creating. I want to be progressing and writing the music that’s inside of me.”
Because so much time has passed since he composed the songs for Electric Dream, Miles had worried that he would no longer resonate with that material. “Some of the songs are from previous circumstances that I’m emotionally nowhere near now,” he says. “But by the time I got to the point of the release [show], I revisited them, and they became fresh and alive to me again.”
WHO: Luzius Stone album release show with VIA, Jellyrox and Towne Mouse
WHERE: The Mothlight, themothlight.com
WHEN: Friday, March 20, 9:30 p.m. $5