Waves Upon Waves is the first Lighthouse XIII album.
It was originally released as two EPs, the ‘red’ and the ‘blue’. These EPs were recorded only a few months apart and are now seen as comprising the band’s first album.
Waves Upon Waves is also the second soundtrack album for Smith’s novel, The Maelstrom Ascendant. All of its ten songs are mentioned in that book and some figure prominently in the plot, most notably ‘SMS: Save My Sanity.’
Formation of Lighthouse XIII
In 2009, Smith returned to recording music, after a break of several years. The self titled ‘red’ EP was released to good reviews. Said Darcy De Young, ‘Smith riffs like Iommi and solos like Rhoads or Angus Young, yet his vocals suggest the alternative stylings of a Morrissey. It’s an odd combination but it works.’
Also featuring Peter Hunt on drums and Edward Vil on bass, the ‘red’ EP includes the songs ‘Mountain Gods’, ‘Reaper Bones’, ‘Between the Stairway and the Highway’, ‘Leuchtturm’, and ‘SMS: Save My Sanity’.
It wasn’t long before the band returned to the studio to record the ‘blue’ EP. Smith wrote most of the songs during a three month stint in Augsburg, Germany. With the songs having a heavier edge than those on the ‘red’ EP, Pete Hunt’s expertise in thrash and speed metal drumming came to the fore on a couple of tracks.
The EP was originally intended to open with the song ‘Waves Upon Waves’ yet the fade up intro on ‘LHXIII’ was deemed a more unusual and interesting way to begin.
Lyrically, Smith has described the EP as ‘a call to arms.’ ‘Waves Upon Waves’ is a song of resurrection, while ‘LHXIII’ speaks of sending a powerful signal into the ether to attract like-minded souls. According to his later novel, The Maelstrom Ascendant, ‘Temporary Kingdom’ was a reaction to his experience of university politics, while ‘New World Alchemy’ is a more general indictment of various types of dictatorships.
The lightest and most mainstream track, ‘Retro Stereo’ was Smith’s bemused reaction to trends in music appreciation. ‘No one seems to listen to music on an old style stereo sound system anymore, it’s all IPods, phones and computers these days.’ The song also comments on downloading and internet piracy, a topic that would be revisited on the song ‘Extinction.Net’ from the band’s third album.
Reception and Association with The Maelstrom Ascendant.
Due to its fragmented and low key release, Waves Upon Waves remained obscure for some time. It’s popularity has risen since the two EPs were united, and particularly since the release of the novel, The Maelstrom Ascendant, for which Waves Upon Waves is the ‘second soundtrack album.’ Nearly all of its songs figure significantly in the plot of that novel, most clearly the ‘phone song,’ ‘SMS: Save My Sanity.’