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Lighthouse Sparrows - Dark Matter (alpha) CD (album) cover


Lighthouse Sparrows



3.13 | 4 ratings

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3 stars The Finnish project Lighthouse Sparrows, led by multi-instrumentalist Sami Sarhamaa and keyboardist Olli Huhtanen (both being also singers and songwriters), seem to favour EP's in their publishing policy. I personally find that a bit frustrating and short-sighted. Dark Matter is theoretically a full-length album released as two separate EP's -- 'Dark Matter (beta)' will be released in April or May. Why such impatience, only for a few months? Also for the contents my initial reception was not very enthusiastic : especially at the first listening it appears as if they are more or less doing the same song over and over. But that phrase sounds all too cynical, I know. To put it more optimistically, one could say they have found their own style which they keep on crafting. Their fairly accessible music is melancholic, dark- toned, often in a slowish tempo, and it reminds me of the not-so-heavy output of STEVEN WILSON /PORCUPINE TREE and other PINK FLOYD influenced modern prog acts such as the Norwegian AIRBAG, with a flair of elegant art-rock la David Sylvian here and there.

The four songs are admittedly very well produced. This is where the creative duo is at their strongest, and the musicianship is naturally of high quality. Perhaps the lead vocals [the other of the two] are the weak link for me. Not that they're bad per se, but a bit colourless on the long run. Especially the female backing vocals could be used much more, while I would even suggest to use completely other lead vocalists for variety. 'Phases' is the longest track (8:31). It is basically a very song-oriented composition the same way as always, but the extended length helps to include some "space" and also instrumental sections. But still I wouldn't choose this one as my favourite, for sounding so depressed in the vocal sections.

'Pale Waters' is a bit more spatial but almost as sombre and depressive. The better lead vocals are faintly reminiscent of David Sylvian, but only faintly. 'Better Before' is sonically calmer and more elegant than the two preceding songs, but unfortunately it doesn't entirely rely on that David Sylvian reminding elegance, and I refer to the depressed, slow- paced chorus.

'Soil' starts very promisingly. The modern, spatial soundscape has a fascinating emotional depth you might hear in acts such as NO-MAN. The bad side is the very same as with 'Better Before', the chorus featuring the duller vocals. So, I remain rather reserved for this 'alpha' half of Dark Matter and hope for more variety from the 'beta' EP. In other words, I wish Sarhamaa and Huhtanen wouldn't put all of their regular ingredients in each of their songs but instead felt more self-confident in the "less is more" approach. And less of that depressed mood would be most welcome!

Matti | 3/5 |


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