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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