Release Date: Oct 27, 2009
Record label: Load
Genre(s): Rock, Experimental
If one had to sum up Lightning Bolt in two words, "awkward" and "delirious" would be as good as any. The experimental bass and drums duo from Providence, Rhode Island delight in doing things their own way, employing strategies that almost seem designed to frustrate any kind of commercial success and retain their cult reputation. These include playing gigs on the floor instead of the stage, with the audience at such close quarters that the band themselves often seem in danger of being swept away in the melee they inspire; a wayward release schedule – their previous album was released in 2005 – and a wariness towards press and promotion.
It’s a small wonder that Lightning Bolt drummer and ‘vocalist’ Brian Chippendale manages to thrash out his pile-driving, hummingbird-on-PCP beats at all, given that he must presumably be sporting a trouser tent the height of Nelson’s Column for the duration of his every stint behind the kit. It’s genuinely tough to think of any other noise-rock sticksman who quite achieves the same strata of gleefully malevolent abandon that seems to be Chippendale’s permanent default setting: this is clearly a man for whom the phrase “bit of a headache, actually” doesn't often get an airing. Whether you’ve actively sought out one of Lightning Bolt’s semi-impromptu 10am patio gigs at ATP, or you just happened to be within a 400-mile radius of the festival site at the time, you’ll be aware that Chippendale live comes across something like Seb Roachford with his knackers wired to a car battery.
Earthly Delights, Lightning Bolt’s fifth album, represents somewhat of a branching out for the fabled noise band. They’ve pulled in some noticeable drone and sludge metal influences into their hectic style; oddly enough, they also seem to be strangely influenced by country and western (Funny Farm) and Indian Raga music (Rain on Lake I’m Swimming In). The good news is that these influences only add some much welcome diversity to their at times almost too-repetitive soundscape.
For something so simple and direct, Lightning Bolt's music is pretty genre-straddling. Ask a fan for a description and you'll likely hear more about what they do-- play loud, fast, and insanely repetitive-- than how they sound. Not so long ago "loud and fast" meant punk, but now those words could just as easily mean noise, prog, metal, grunge, lo-fi, even techno.
Odds are better than good that if you’ve clicked on this link, you already know whether or not you want this record. Lightning Bolt is not the sort of band likely to surprise their listeners with a sudden digression into acoustic balladry or chirpy synth-pop. For the uninitiated, Lightning Bolt consists of two guys named Brian, one who plays an electric bass through several effects pedals and an amp the size of a refrigerator, and one who plays drums as quickly as he possibly can while shouting stuff into a telephone receiver strapped to his face with what looks like a Day-Glo bondage mask.
One of the best topics amongst music fanatics is their choice of listening preference. Do you need to hear something in your car to form a valid opinion? Is listening to an album on a good pair of headphones worthwhile? Does it even matter if it’s blaring from your cheap computer speakers? If you ask me, the music of noise rock duo Lightning Bolt, consisting of Brian Chippendale (drums, vocals) and Brian Gibson (bass), should be heard in every possible channel. For years, Lightning Bolt has been the true epitome of the Do-It-Yourself belief: placing all of your own efforts into making something genuine and sincere.