Murray A. Lightburn: MASS:LIGHT (Ting Dun) Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
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Murray A. Lightburn

MASS:LIGHT

Ting Dun

Oct 23, 2013 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Murray Lightburn's debut solo album is something of a departure from his work with The Dears, the Montréal-based outfit he has headed for 18 years and five albums. Firstly, for MASS:LIGHT, Lightburn played all the instruments, constructing all the album's sounds, save for some strings and brass. Secondly, Lightburn completed MASS:LIGHT entirely on his own dime, releasing it on his own Ting Dun imprint. A bio he wrote for the project explains how he kept the deeply personal album to himself for more than 18 months, not letting anyone hear it until he was ready. Said bio, which Lightburn presents with sentences redacted for reasons unknown, describes MASS:LIGHT as an "incredibly personal" album about "denial, regret, and reconciliation...love and sacrifice." To listen to the album, Lightburn's intense, passionate vision comes through like a blow to the head.

Sonically, MASS:LIGHT is something like electronic neo-soul for goths, but it's the lyrics that are most telling. Starting with synthetic pulse and orchestrated strings, "Motherfuckers" opens with the lyrics, "Another beast is here to terrorize," and later finds Lightburn repeatedly singing, "I've given up everything." "A Thousand Light Years" has Lightburn chanting the word "war" over electronic blurps that seem straight out of 1986; the song also features the choice line: "If I could slit that throat...I would, without a shred of remorse." "Through Storms" brings more of a minimalist soul groove, but the singer sounds no happier: "It's a hostile, cruel world waiting out there, with no promises and no answers, just disaster."

"From Dreams" splits the album down the middle; it's an instrumental track beginning with a lone church organ, followed by synth textures that predominate, giving the track an interesting '80s prog sound-like some bizarre gothic Yes skulking across 90125's "Owner of a Lonely Heart." The second half of the album gets a bit lighter, with Lightburn finding some resignation and resilience on the title track and repeatedly intoning the title words on "I Believe, I Believe." Then, on the album's epic six-and-a-half-minute finale "In Pieces," Lightburn is finally fighting: "That's blood on my belt buckle/I've been beating up the devil." MASS:LIGHT is an intense piece of work, satisfying but no easy listen. (www.murraylightburn.com)

Author rating: 7.5/10

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Average reader rating: 10/10



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