Waiting on the Sun to Rise
Wondering What Everyone Knows
Take it Home
Lightning Dust - Lightning Dust (2007)
No light without darkness
With Amber Webber shining in the lead, the Black Mountaineers prove that this is more than just a side project.
The Lightning Dust's self-titled 2007 debut sounded very much like the way it was perceived – as a side project. Songs were sonic versions of (very good) notepad scribbles that seldom amounted to more than two or three minutes, while sparse instrumentation and simple arrangements underlined the poignant feel of the music – an antidote to the old school Led Zep psych rock that Amber Webber and Joshua Wells indulge in as part of established label buddies Black Mountain. But the fact that the duo is releasing a second album indicates that their debut wasn't just a fling.
Although Webber and Wells haven't become quantitively more generous – Infinite Light, like their debut, clocks in at just under 35 minutes – their arrangements have become bigger and more grandiose. Whereas before drums and strings were an exception from the norm, they now sit at the front making the tunes sonically more interesting and sound like natural extensions of the duo's low-key indie rock. The increased presence of synths is also a favourable element, particularly on the Talk Talk-tinged ballad Never Seen.
Although some of the all-encompassing melancholy from the duo's first release is gone there's still a sombre mood lingering, even on upbeat songs such as the Suicide homage I Knew, or the Rolling Stones-influenced The Times. Webber carries the album with her idiosyncratic and distinctly quivery voice, and it's great to hear her take centre stage as opposed to playing second fiddle to Black Mountain vocalist Stephen McBean. Her unsettling vibrato pulls, tugs and stretches the compositions. When Joshua Wells steps up to the microphone on Honest Man one realises just how integral Webber is: Wells has got a decent set of pipes, but with the novelty of Webber removed, the enthralling veil that encloses Infinite Light is brutally lifted.
Following in the footsteps of Metallica, the Canadian duo have laid their touch to a tune by veteran metalheads Budgie – Lightning Dust's take on the beautiful Latin-laden ballad Wondering What Everyone Knows is one of the album highlights. "I never walk in the street or gather round where people meet, with you on my head and me on my toes, wondering what everyone knows," Webber shivers with a voice that accentuates the cabin-feverish lyrics against an orchestrated backdrop.
Webber and Wells' obsession with light as the band name and album title indicate is less an audible aspect than an element indicating their relationship to Black Mountain. The press release implies how the two feed off each other, stating that Infinite Light "is a reminder that what makes the mountains so very, very black is a distant light somewhere on the other side".
And congruent with Black Mountain's musical development, Infinite Light is a step on and up for the Lightning Dust.