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NoSound - Lightdark CD (album) cover

LIGHTDARK

NoSound

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.87 | 120 ratings

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BrufordFreak
5 stars Spacious. Ambient. Simply constructed. I can see why some listeners might not enjoy this album (and, thus, write negative reviews of it). But for one who enjoys PINK FLOYD, PORCUPINE TREE, DAVID SYLVIAN, BRIAN ENO, or AIRBAG, this is a wonderful album. In fact, IMHO, there are several songs on Lightdark that may even top the achievements of the afore-mentioned.

1. "About Butterflies and Children" is a short instrumental of swirling synthesized keyboards, organ, and, a little later, treated HAROLD BUDD-like piano. Nice, calm piece that definitely introduces the dominant sounds, tempo, and mood of the album. 7/10

2. "Places Remained" begins with a blues drum and bass rhythm and sound before RICHARD BARBIERI-like synths fill the aural spectrum just before we hear Giancarlo Erra's voice for the first time. Wow! I thought it was STEVEN WILSON! At least until the accent becomes obvious. Masterful use of the keyboard synths to fill the background--to hypnotize the listener. And a nice GILMOUR/WILSON guitar solo at the 3:20 mark to the song's end. 7/10

3. "The Misplay" is one of the album's masterpieces containing perhaps the best vocals of the album. It begins, again, with floating keyboard synths and effects masterfully accompanying some heavily treated piano notes. Giancarlo's absolutely stunning vocal work enters over the undulating synth wash to the 2:00 minute mark when pizzicato strings and the same heavily treated piano tinkering from the song's intro take over for the slowly receding vocal. Masterful use of and balance between keyboards/synths, effects, strings (a particularly beautiful cello presence after the 3:02 mark), and recording effects. (Is Mr. ENO on board?) 10/10

4. "From Silence to Noise" begins with reverse (backward) guitar and keys over a synth-strings wash. At the 2:05 mark there is a synth-strings chord shift opening the door for some delicate cymbols play--soon followed by some slow, well-spaced (and echoed) guitar single strums. FLOYD-ian vocals and bass are soon to follow. One really intriguing aspect of this song is how much attention is earned by the cymbol play--as if it were a solo--due to the fact that everything else in the song is so constant and repetitive; the cymbols are the only thing "moving." Astonishing!The 4:15 mark sees the beginning of some PINK FLOYD ("Comfortably Numb") sound. 4:45 introduces the vocal chorus (with doubled lead and harmonizing vocals). It's so-o-o PINK FLOYD! 6:25 sees a short pause until the 6:40 mark when the drums and keys change activity in a very goosebumpity moment. The bass, drums, and cymbols build and build until at 7:30 everything but the synth-string wash drops away--again pointing all attention to the returning cymbols "solo" and slow single guitar strums. At the 8:30 mark we are graced with a gorgeous GILMOUR-ish slide guitar solo--which is later doubled in the left channel. At 9:35 the chorus returns. Such a rich swirling of the synthesized strings sounds! It's like being bathed in a healing ether! AT the 11;00 mark the vocals cut out and we are left with the fascinating cymbol play over the thick swirling synths and slow, well-spaced guitar strums. The swirling synths build to a crescendo as the other instruments fade away, then themselves begin to fade while a kind of industrial-sea sound builds, over which the sounds of children palying on a playground play out to the song's end. Wow! What a trip! 9/10

5. Another pure masterpiece, "Someone Starts to Fade Away" begins with a very emotionally heart-wrenching STEVE REICH-HAROLD BUDD/BRIAN ENO-like background treated piano and ekyboard wash. A brief backward guitar solo plays before guest vocalist TIM BOWNESS (NO-MAN) enters to give an absolutely gorgeous vocal performance--the perfect match to the background music. (It seems to me that a semi-whispering, almost talking approach is when Bowness's vocal talents are most powerful.) Add mellotron at 2:15 as vocals rise an octave?as well as in urgency. At 2:50 enter bass and electric guitar--which turn into arpeggios at the 3:15 mark. The song has such a Before and After Science/Plateaux of Mirror feel to it! Last vocal whispers return at the 3:40 mark. The entrance of a very different electric guitar sound's lead solo at the 4:55 mark plays a very emotional and seemingly improvised--felt--solo for the next two and three-quarter minutes. As the background keys fade, another very different, "clean," jazzy guitar sound is introduced at the 7:35 mark. It proceeds to gently solo to the song's end. So "And Julie With ... "!! Feel it! 10/10

6. "Kites" begins with a now-familiar minimalist simplicity until the 1:40 mark when cello, mellotron, and jazz drums enter. Here Giancarlo's boxed in/treated vocals are the weakest of the album. Unfortunately, the song's foundational synth arpeggios become a bit annoying. The cello, mellotron, and drums are the song's strengths and highlights until the 4:15 mark when an interlude of voice.radio samples (à la HOLGER CZUKAY) fill the space until the music and vocals return at 4:40 with a little more power and urgency. A very DAVID SYLVIAN sounding song. Excellent cello and mellotron work. This song really grew on me with repeated listens. 7/10

7. "Lightdark" begins very similarly to "Someone Starts to Fade Away:" treated piano minimalist play. At :40 the vocals enter--again sounding the same as "SStFA." Unfortunately, the chord selection, melody, harmonies, and theatric presentation are far less engaging than on "SStFA." Heavy mellotron use beginning at the 2:40 mark, joined by two soloing guitars at the 4:20 mark--one a "clean" jazzy guitar, the other holding and bending sustained notes with the twang bar. The two play to fade as the sounds of rainfall are mixed with those of birds and café-like background voices and noises. 6/10

8. The album's last great song, "Cold Afterall" begins with the sound of rainfall behind which the female voice of a public address system in a train station (or airport) sound. Oscillating keyboard synth work is joined by strumming acoustic guitar (very PF/PT sounding). Familiar vocals. Nice mellotron-accompanied and vocal chorus at 1:14 to brief jazzy guitar solo at 1:50. Enter drums and bass at 2:05. Very "Wish You Were Hear" sounding. 2:52 sees the chorus/mellotron return till 3:55. 4:10 begins the final whispered vocals before the 4:25 entrance of two screaming lead guitars sounding rather like the long end solo of TODD RUNDGREN's "The Last Ride." (From 1974's Todd.) 8/10

9. "Like the Elephant?" is an instrumental that presents a rather different and somewhat welcome change of pace and style. Heavy prog, with a very PORCUPINE TREE beginning (Including familiar keyboard chords and solo sounds, power guitar/bass chord playing.) The highlight, however--and this is a very big highlight--begins at the 3:30 mark. The most uncanny ROBERT FRIPP-sounding guitar solo--complete with awkward pauses, dissonances, and quirky key changes--that I have ever heard. (Moreso, even than NIL). 7/10

10. "You Said, 'I Am'" begins with a now over-used minimalist piano-to-be-joined by organ and plaintive vocal formula. 1:15 sees the addition of yet another very PORCUPINE TREE-sounding guitar strum with bass and mellotron. Voice fades to allow entrance of cello at 2:05 Again, the constant background (mixed way too far into the front) piano arpeggios get rather annoying. Underused cello. Best Mellotron play on the album. 7/10

11. "Clouds" ends the album with an ambient instrumental. The lead synthesier "buzzing bagpipe" sound becomes rather annoying/grating after several minutes; not even the masterful use of synthesized strings and banked voices can seem to overcome this choice for the lead. Plus, the song drags on longer than necessary. 6/10

Overall, the album takes one on a very emotional and mostly serene and kind of "urban-pastoral" journey. I like the cohesiveness and consistency of the album--as well as the recording and engineering. Though many criticize this for being derivative or too imitational, I laud NOSOUND for taking PF and PT sound and styles to new and beautiful levels--especially with "The Misplay," "From Silence to Noise," and "Someone Starts to Fade Away."

4.5 stars rounded up because I seem to enjoy this album--played start to finish--more and more with each listening, therefore, it must be a masterpiece!

BrufordFreak | 5/5 |

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