Plumbiferous Media

Infinite Light - Lightning Dust

Aug 16th 2009
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Infinite Light - Lightning DustLightning Dust
Infinite Light
Score: 41

Light­ning Dust was formed in 2007 as a side project of Black Moun­tain mem­bers Amber Web­ber and Joshua Wells, intend­ed to allow the two to express their lighter sides. Light­ning Dust’s sec­ond album, Infi­nite Light, which fol­lows a self-titled LP, was released last week. While Infi­nite Light demon­strates that Light­ning Dust is cer­tain­ly dif­fer­ent from Black Moun­tain, it also shows that these dif­fer­ences are not always positive.

Infi­nite Light begins and ends suc­cess­ful­ly. The open­ing track, “Anto­nia Jane” ini­tial­ly uses a gui­tar line that pro­vides a rhyth­mic con­trast nec­es­sary on an oth­er­wise quite sim­ple track, and the piano bridges near the mid­dle and end nice­ly fill the vacan­cies the vocals leave. Towards the end of the album, “Won­der­ing What Every­one Knows” com­bines a sim­ple rhyth­mic gui­tar line, a cre­ative (while still not over­pow­er­ing) drum line, and a syn­thet­ic har­mo­ny to great suc­cess. Where the album does not suc­ceed, how­ev­er, is in the remain­ing tracks.

“I Knew” uses a per­cus­sive sound that most close­ly resem­bles repeat­ed tap­ping on a micro­phone, and while this is intend­ed to push the track for­ward and keep it active, its largest effect is to make the lis­ten­er ner­vous. Light­ning Dust then fol­lows “I Knew” with its polar oppo­site: a track that plods along, bare­ly drag­ging its own weight. But the real prob­lem does not show itself in the tracks that dis­tin­guish them­selves through anx­i­ety or lethar­gy. Instead, the most prob­lem­at­ic tracks are those that fail to dis­tin­guish them­selves at all: “Nev­er Seen” remains an inter­lude that bare­ly changes the album as a whole, “Wait­ing on the Sun to Rise” can be best described as “back­ground music,” and “Take It Home” is all but forgettable.

Infi­nite Light is large­ly defined by Amber Web­ber’s indi­vid­ual vocals, which is, in the end, simul­ta­ne­ous­ly a ben­e­fit and detri­ment to the album. Web­ber’s trem­bling, unchang­ing vocals cer­tain­ly dis­tin­guish the album, but at the cost of over­all qual­i­ty. The slight edge the trem­ble gives her vocals is alter­nate­ly grat­ing and oner­ous, though in a few cas­es, most notably “Anto­nia Jane” and “Won­der­ing What Every­one Knows,” Web­ber’s vocals are merged well enough with the music that this attribute occa­sion­al­ly becomes an inter­est­ing ele­ment of the track as a whole. But for the most part, this promi­nent fea­ture serves to weak­en Web­ber’s oth­er­wise emo­tion­al­ly inter­est­ing vocals sub­stan­tial­ly. Per­haps if it were less overt it would have worked - but it is instead over­done. Joshua Wells’ more stan­dard vocals, which enter ful­ly on “Hon­est Man,” are some­what stronger than Web­ber’s, but suf­fer from a lack of pres­ence through most of the album which pre­vent them from being any­thing more than a tem­po­rary diver­sion, as Web­ber’s vocals remain quite firm­ly preeminent.

The lyrics of Infi­nite Light begin well, with strong, occa­sion­al­ly strange lines unique­ly suit­ed to Web­ber’s some­what flawed vocals, from the image on “Anto­nia Jane” of the “Pick­pock­et lady with her mind on you,” to the rather odd ode on “I Knew:” “I nev­er ever thought I’d meet some­one like you / Your spir­it shot bul­lets / You were some­thing new.” But after the first few tracks, which are full of imag­i­na­tive images of this cal­iber, the lyrics become for­get­table, nev­er return­ing to the lev­el of the ear­ly tracks.

Infi­nite Light can be a per­plex­ing and thought­ful album. It retains a notice­able pro­gres­sive influ­ence from Black Moun­tain, which often mesh­es inter­est­ing­ly with Light­ning Dust’s desire for lighter, less dense music. But more often than not, Infi­nite Light is more dull than it is inter­est­ing. Most lis­ten­ers would prob­a­bly be will­ing to for­give an album for hav­ing one or two tracks that blend into the rest, but when most of the tracks on an album are unre­mark­able, it is left with very lit­tle - hard­ly enough to make any sort of impres­sion on the listener.

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