Most of us know Daniel Stevenson as guitarist of Frontierer, one of the most aggressive, forward thinking mathcore acts around. So when we first heard about Lift, part of us wondered if we were in for a second serving of Dan’s signature high-tech riffs.
But Lift is on an entirely different level, some might even say the polar opposite. There is Beauty in Everything is an emotive ambient saga, weaving elements of progressive house, IDM, and pop. With hypnotic production and guest features from Adam Betts and Ian Maciak, Stevenson’s debut is at once massive and intimate.
“L1,” swells with detached vocals and lo-fi fuzziness, drips of synth percolating the dusty sun rays with nostalgia. At first, you find yourself gearing up for some kind of shift. When it happens, and boy does it ever, it’s not the direction you were probably expecting. The song swoops through eery levels of electric tension and Clams Casino style beats. Lift explores this dynamic from a variety of angles throughout There is Beauty in Everything.
It’s already been quite a year when it comes to experimental side projects. After a year of relative isolation, for many of us, it was or is bound to happen. But Stevenson’s vulnerability pays off on songs like “James” and “Stutter,” making for a fascinating inter-song chemistry. It’s an album you want to experience all at once, but also spend time piecing together.
“I suppose this record is my attempt at showing how I feel when I hear or experience something that reaches that place that can’t really be described. It’s an intangible, immeasurable feeling, and I’ve tried to capture glimmers of that.”
Stevenson’s description of Lift, as vague as it is, is perfect. It’s ephemeral. It’s effervescent. The nature of There is Beauty in Everything might be difficult to capture at first, but it’s depth proves more than worth the effort. It’s also got a fair amount of surprises up its sleeve. “Waves” melts in and out of various moods before breaking out into an all out boiler-room beat. The tragic yet uplifting “James” sounds like something Sufjan Stevens could have put out in the Age of Adz era.
Outro “Hold” literally brings everything full circle, revitalizing the sample featured in “L1” with a far steadier, warmer pulse. It’s yet another clever device to be found beneath the surface of the album. Overall, it’s that level of care that really elevates Lift from a conventional side project to something truly exceptional. There is Beauty in Everything might be hard to describe, but it’s a wonder to experience.
Stream the new album at Lift’s Bandcamp, or if you’re in a brutal mood, check out his work with the deadly Frontierer here. We’ll keep you posted if we hear anything more.