Lightning Bolt

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Lightning Bolt (1997) , 6/10
Ride The Skies (2001) , 7/10
Mindflayer: It's Always 1999 (2001), 5.5/10
Mindflayer: Take Your Skin Off (2003), 6.5/10
Wonderful Rainbow (2003), 6/10
Hypermagic Mountain (2005), 6/10
Earthly Delights (2009), 6/10

Lightning Bolt, from Providence (Rhode Island), are one of the few American bands (actually just the duo of drummer Brian Chippendale and vocalist/bassist Brian Gibson) who can compete with the Japanese noise masters (Fushitsusha, Boredoms, Ruins).

They debuted as trio with Lightning Bolt (1997), also known as The Yellow Record, that still featured original vocalist Hisham Bharoocha. Way more extreme than Rhode Island buddies Arab On Radar, Lightning Bolt matched dissonant fury with killer speed. The CD reissue adds the 32-minute improvisation Zone. When Hisham Bharoocha left (to form Black Dice), the rhythm section decided to continue as a duo.

Ride The Skies (Load, 2001), the first album to be recorded as a duo, is a suite of eight devastating instrumentals of improvised noise-rock. The main change is due to the terrible sounds of Gibson's guitar, who now behaves like a veritable orchestra of noise. The manic, looping riffs of Forcefield and 13 Monsters are the best introduction to the band's irresistible impetus. Huge doses of sense of humour and cacophony breath life into unlikely pieces such as The Faire Folk and Wee One's Parade, reminiscent of early Frank Zappa and Chrome. But Lightning Bolt offers even more than mere high-energy jamming. The frantic drumming and strumming of Ride The Sky hides a melody in the chaos, the prog-rock maelstrom of Rotator lines up according to a skewed but no less strict geometry. There is method to this madness.

Mindflayer is Chippendale's side-project, in existence since 1996. The project's first album, It's Always 1999 (Ooo Mau Mau, 2001 - Load, 2004), unreleased for three years, leveraged the contributions of electronic musician Forcefield's Meerk Puffy (Matt Brinkmann). Its short vignettes were far less abrasive than Lightning Bolt's contemporary Ride The Skies. Mindflayer's second album Take Your Skin Off (Bulb, 2003) was a more assured work. Its tour de force, the 21-minute long You're Dead At the Bottom of a Dungeon, is an explosive fusion of free-jazz, house and Neu. Mindflayer's mission was continued on Die And Mold (2004) and Expeditions to the Hairier Peaks (2005).

In the meantime, Lightning Bolt's third album, Wonderful Rainbow (Load, 2003), was another tour de force of fast and loud noise, from Assassins (basically, instrumental demented punk-rock) to the deranged rock'n'roll of On Fire to the industrial pow-wow of Duel In The Deep to the seven-minute electrical torture of 2 Towers, that sounds like a Suicide threnody to the square, peaking with the videogame-like and hyper-Hendrix-ian 30000 Monkeys. At the intersection of speed-metal and noise-core, the duo captured a spectrum of hybrid emotions that were not served by either genre independently.

The mesmerizing duo playing (especially Brian Gibson's virtuoso bass vocabulary) had become the very essence of their music on Hypermagic Mountain (Load, 2005). The duo was mainly intent in shocking the listener with the breakneck-speed passages and the loud metal-ish attacks of Riffwraiths, 2 Morro Morro Land and Captain Caveman. The tension remains explosive throughout the album, despite the fact that a few tracks sound like filler. But, regardless of the artistic value of the compositions, the sheer power of the performances is intimidating, especially Dead Cowboy and Mohawkwindmill, two pieces whose manic intensity brings back memories of Bitch Magnet.

Just like its two predecessors, Lightning Bolt's Earthly Delights (2009) has its good moments but sounds empty and redundant most of the time. Their last three albums should have been EPs.

Lightning Bolt's Brian Gibson also played (drums!) on Megasus' debut Megasus (Wild Power, 2009).

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Alessandro)

I Lightning Bolt da Providence (Rhode Island), sono una delle poche band americane (attualmente solo il duo formato dal batterista/cantante Brian Chippendale e dal bassista Brian Gibson) che sia in grado di competere con i maestri del noise giapponese (Fushitsusha, Boredoms, Ruins).

Debuttarono come trio con Lightning Bolt (1997), conosciuto anche come The Yellow Record, nel quale figurava ancora il cantante originale Hisham Bharoocha. Maggiormente estremi rispetto ai compagni di Rhode Island Arab on Radar, i Lightning Bolt univano una furia dissonante ad una velocità omicida. La ristampa in cd aggiunge l’improvvisazione di 32 minuti Zone. Quando Bharoocha lasciò la band (per formare i Black Dice), la sezione ritmica decise di continuare come duo.

Ride the Skies (Load, 2001), il primo album ad essere registrato come duo, è una suite di otto devastanti strumentali di noise rock improvvisato. Il principale cambiamento è dovuto ai terribili suoni della chitarra di Gibson, che ora fa la parte di una vera e propria orchestra noise.

I maniacali, ripetitivi riff di Forcefield e 13 monsters sono la miglior introduzione all’impeto irresistibile della band. Massicce dosi di humor e cacofonia soffiano la vita in brani come The Faire Folk e Wee One’s Parade, reminiscienti del primo Zappa e dei Chrome. Ma i Lightning Bolt offrono più che mere jams ad alta energia. I frenetici drumming e strimpellamenti di Ride the skies nascondono la melodia dietro al caos, il maelstrom prog-rock di Rotator si allinea secondo una geometria obliqua ma non per questo meno rigorosa. C’è un metodo in questa follia.

Mindflayer è il side-project di Chippendale,esistente dal 1996. Il primo album, It’s always 1999 (Ooo Mau Mau, 2001 – Load 2004) rimasto inedito per tre anni, traeva forza dai contributi del musicista elettronico Forcefield’s Meerk Puffy (Mark Brinkmann). Le sue brevi vignette erano assai meno abrasive rispetto al contemporaneo Ride the skies dei Lightning bolt. Take your skin off (Bulb, 2003) era un opera di gran lunga più assurda. Il suo tour de force, You’re dead at the bottom of a dungeon, lunga 21 minuti, è un’esplosiva miscela di free-jazz, house e Neu. La missione dei Mindflayer continuò con Die and mold (2004) ed Expeditions to the hairier peaks (2005).

Nel frattempo il terzo album dei Lightning Bolt, Wonderful Rainbow (Load, 2003), era un altro tour de force di noise veloce e a tutto volume, dai maelstrom punitivi di 30000 Monkeys, Dracula Mountain e Assassins , ai sette minuti di tortura di Two Towers. Tra speed-metal e noise-core il duo catturava uno spettro di emozioni ibride che non si trovano in nessuno dei due generi indipendentemente.

L’ipnotico suono del duo (specialmente il virtuoso vocabolario del basso di Brian Gibson) era diventato la vera essenza della loro musica in Hypermagic Mountain (Load, 2005). Il duo era principalmente intento a scioccare l’ascoltatore con i passaggi velocissimi ed i possenti, metallici attacchi di Riffwraiths, 2 Morro Morro Land e Captain Caveman. La tensione rimane esplosiva durante tutto l’album, nonostante alcune tracce risultino un po’ sovraccariche. Ma,a prescindere dal valore artistico delle composizioni, la pura potenza delle performance è spaventosa, specialmente in Dead Cowboy e Mohawkwindmill, due brani dei quali la maniacale intensità richiama alla memoria i Bitch Magnet.

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