Band â€â€œ Lightning Bolt
Album â€â€œ Earthly Delights
Label â€â€œ Load Records
Release date â€â€œ last October
Sounds like â€â€œ 2 guys called Brian playing bass and drums
I would dearly love to get into the minds of the two Brians (Chippendale and Gibson) that make up Rhode Islandâ€™s Lightning Bolt just to see where the hell they get their ideas. Iâ€™d also be intrigued to know what the thought process (if any) led creating each particular track on ‘Earthy Delightsâ€™ and indeed, on their past efforts. Part of me feels that a lot of this is improvised â€â€œ jam session material that the two have come up with whilst trying to write something, but because both musicians know each other so well, to them, it never feels like an extended work out; this is how they play â€â€œ this is their sound. Itâ€™s like they share this hive mind link of knowing what comes next. For every distorted bass pluck, thereâ€™s a thundering drum pound; for every unintelligible vocal howl, thereâ€™s the sound of an engine revving through an amplifier.
‘Earthly Delightsâ€™ is one of those rare albums where the cover art exactly reflects my feelings of the music contained on the compact disc inside. Iâ€™d imagine that if this CD was fed to a specialised automotive drawing machine, within 10 seconds it would be a flailing mess of mechanical limbs; scribbling and carving abstract shapes, distorted butterflies, misshapen devil flowers, smothering it all in layers of psychedelic paint before combusting. I imagine though itâ€™s a subtle tribute to Hieronymus Bosch, only with less naked torture and bird demons eating damned souls.
Opening track ‘Sound Guardiansâ€™ is a stodgy start â€â€œ a militant drumbeat, keeping a steady pounding rhythm as the bass circles it, like some kind of banshee-like predator, howling a pulsating drone of terror. Then it leaps on the drums and starts tearing and shredding with all the subtly of an axe in the back and a kerb to the face. Bassist Gibson then shifts gear, ripping a howling distort of swirling fury through Chippendaleâ€™s drumming, which is quite frankly, astonishing. This isnâ€™t just mindless noise; this has serious grooves. Grooves you could graft onto the side of the Statue of Liberty. The bass, whilst thick with this murky distortion, has that driving grind that makes the listener want to snap their body into all kinds of convoluted shapes and spasms.
The dense attack of ‘Nation Of Boarâ€™ cements the sometimes tight, but always relentless that the Rhode Island two piece have. In these 6 minutes, Lightning Bolt shift from a claustrophobic metal stomp, to a spaced out trance of sonic destruction. Gibsonâ€™s bass shifts ever closer to white-noise territory, straddling lines between brain-haemorrhaging feedback and aural brilliance, whilst Chippendaleâ€™s staccato stop-start rhythmic pound on the drums keeps everything in check (if thatâ€™s even possible). ‘Colossusâ€™ slows actions considerably, favouring a sluggish build of thick, textures and almost progressive structures. It purrs with stoner pretensions; keen to be recognised as something the dope-smoking community would perhaps be content to nod their head to whilst entering the realm of doobie central, whilst the vocals are lost within this miasmic haze of gluttonous bedlam.
Lightning Bolt have never been a tight band. There sound is characterised by their scrappy, other-worldly approach to song writing and construction. This couldnâ€™t be exemplified more than in ‘The Sublime Freakâ€™; a messy jaunt of fake telephone rings, before a sudden dive into the muddy waters of scathing fuzz. The drums clatter and bounce as though theyâ€™ve been constructed from old pots and pans; particularly the pounding bass drum; which reverberates with a tinny stomp of unyielding power. Chippendale barks down the customized microphone; his vocals lost with Gibsonâ€™s drawling bass as the two combine to create a high-pitched clamour of dread. ‘Flooded Chamberâ€™ is a strange one, even for Lightning Bolt standards â€â€œ the first 2 minutes are reminiscent of someone re-tuning an incredibly loud, broken radio, whilst trying to play the stylophone at the same time. It howls like a wounded animal, present even when Gibsonâ€™s bass and Chippendaleâ€™s drums cut in, possibly in some vain attempt to drown out this wall of impregnable noise. Iâ€™m unconvinced whether this can be classed as music; itâ€™s more like the occupants of a mental asylum doing some free-form musical experimentation as part of their ‘group therapy work.â€™
‘Funny Farmâ€™ is classic Lightning Bolt of old; metallic riffs that grind and roar, complete with a distorted playground-chant from Chippendale and yet more impenetrable percussion.
The drugged nature of ‘Rain On Lake Iâ€™m Swimming Inâ€™ blurs boundaries between scribbles of improvised key bashing, with an atmospheric drone of stoned bliss. For some explicable reason it makes me think of summertime and running on a beach in slow motion, whilst a helicopter crashes into the sea in the distance. ‘S.O.Sâ€™ splices Theremin-style siren-noises within the turbulent rhythmic destruction. Whilst the track title pleas for salvation, the music tells a different story â€â€œ itâ€™s a chaotic abomination of rusty, guttural riffs and slovenly drumbeats, with the ever present wail of Defcon-4 in the background â€â€œ punk fucking rock and no mistake.
It ends with ‘Transmissionaryâ€™; a lengthy 12 minute opus that vomits and rasps filth in every direction. The bass sounds as if itâ€™s being played using a high-powered drill, layered with barbaric feedback, whilst the drums are just a deep groove of unrelenting fury.
‘Earthly Delights’ is a raw, pulsating beast of an album – a product of two individuals who live and breathe a plethora of warped and twisted sounds and do not know the meaning of the words “could you quieten down please.”
By Ross Macdonald