Lightning Dust ups the ante

Lightning Dust - Infinite Light
Lightning Dust‘s self-titled debut, released in 2007, is one of the most sombre, depressing records in recent memory. The album is entirely made up of piano ballads and sparse acoustic dirges, many of the arrangements featuring only a single instrument to accompany the vocals.

For their second album, Infinite Light, Amber Webber and Joshua Wells (best known as 2/5 of Black Mountain) have opted for lusher arrangements, embellishing their songs with Hounds of Love-style synthesizers and thundering percussion. Webber’s shuddering vibrato is as affecting as always, but this time it’s backed with spectral harmonies and a chilling string section. Stylistically, “Never Seen” isn’t a huge departure from the last album, but its haunting electric piano chords are joined by atmospheric synth flourishes and a cavernous, slow-motion drumbeat. By the time the song reaches is reverb-soaked climax, the rich instrumentation is so soothing that it could almost be new age.

mp3: “Never Seen”

Elsewhere, Lightning Dust lifts the mood with major key pop songs that could almost be described as radio friendly. “The Times” features deep, resonating piano chords supported by a rhythm section of bongos and shakers, sounding for all the world like the Rolling Stones (think “Sympathy for the Devil”). The drums that enter in the final minute are so breakneck that it resembles a continuous drumroll.

Lead single “I Knew” begins with a jackhammer electro beat and countrified acoustic arpeggios as Webber adopts a southern twang in keeping with the backwoods atmosphere; with a chorus that repeats the lyric “I knew love,” it’s the group’s most accessible song yet.

mp3: “I Knew”

Lightning Dust’s progression on Infinite Light is so pronounced that it sounds almost like an entirely different band. And, mostly importantly, it’s better in every way imaginable: the production is crisper, the songs more memorable, the arrangements more dynamic. It’s so good, in fact, that it stands up against Pink Mountaintops‘ monumental Outside Love, another Black Mountain spin-off released earlier this year. With side projects this good, it’s hard to miss Black Mountain during its 2009 hiatus.

Infinite Light is out now via Jagjaguwar.
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  1. By Lightning Dust @ the Biltmore Cabaret, 8/27/09 on August 28, 2009 at 11:15 am

    [...] live by the band’s two members, Amber Webber and Josh Wells. But the pair’s new album, the gorgeous Infinite Light, is significantly more elaborate than the debut, meaning that the group has now [...]

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