Aug 14, 2009 Web Exclusive
Fact: there are enough Black Mountain side projects to make Black Mountain seem like a side project. Other fact: said side projects are consistently worthwhile.
Lightning Dust is the band's Joshua Wells and Amber Webber, and Infinite Light is their second full-length. Their 2007 eponymous debut was a sparser, darker version of Black Mountain's stoned maximalism. Here we have more of the same, but with an extra helping of confidence. Oh, and string arrangements.
Wells and Webber make a great team. Webber's vocals are top-notch; her smoky timbre and strained vibrato inevitably getting a Grace Slick comparison. Wells' keyboard playing is also adept as hell—finding just the right tension and tones on each song from a bag of retro-futurist analog tricks.
Then there's John Congleton, the go-to guy for mixing Black Mountain songs these days, doing as wonderfully here as he did with the latest Pink Mountaintops album, roping in denser arrangements and strings without loosing the sparseness or moodiness.
"Antonia Jane" opens with a touch of country flavor, Weber declaring "I declare a war on you, someday soon" over strummed acoustics, a feeling of lost—or at least confusing—romance immediately taking over. "I Knew" follows up, an absolute gem, with its analog synth fetishism and a monster chorus that recalls the more biting side of Fleetwood Mac.
The hits continue with the swagger of "The Times," the Wurlitzer heartache of "Never Seen," the goofy-but-beautiful duet on "Honest Man," and a superb cover of Budgie's "Wondering What Everyone Knows."
Like Black Mountain, Lightning Dust exists somewhat outside of historical context, picking and choosing whatever elements they need, with an audible '70s bias that's all win. But if Black Mountain indulges the riff, Lightning Dust indulges the song. Side project my ass. (http://www.lightningdust.com)
Author rating: 8/10
Average reader rating: 8/10