Lightning Dust

by Jim Di Gioia

November 9, 2019

Lightning Dust’s first album in six years is less a revenant and more a revelation.

It only lasts about a minute forty-five seconds, but the eerie opening to “Devoted To”, the first song on Lightning Dust’s Spectre, has to be the tensest introduction to a song I’ve heard all year. In large part, it’s charged with anticipation because those who know the duo intimately know that it’s leading up to Amber Webber’s striking, singular vocals. Her voice is instantly recognizable and immediately riveting. “Who’ll comfort you when you’re coloured blue?” she quivers,  “Who’ll draw in your eye?” all the while knowing full well that just by opening her mouth and singing, she has us (okay, me) in the palm of her hand.

Or maybe she doesn’t know the power of her voice That’s strengthened when combined with the electrifying music she makes with partner Joshua Wells. How on “Inglorious Flu”, with nothing but Webber’s voice and a piano, Lightning Dust exudes an enchanted hauntedness, a musical atmosphere that’s genuine and true, and utterly frightening. The classic psychedelic eruption of “Competitive Depression” (abetted by guest Dan Bejar) is highly focused, laser-guided; thudding drums, distant jangles, and swirling synths open the warmest, deepest void. It’s the trippiest trip on a record full of similar preternatural wonders.

Perhaps it’s because Spectre is the first Lightning Dust album since Webber and Wells’ defection from Black Mountain that it feels as if the duo have invested every ounce of artistry and energy into its ten songs. As a full-time, fully invested project, Lightning Dust has come into its own, emerged from behind the shadows of Webber and Wells’ former associations. As Webber sings on the delicate ballad “When It Rains”, “when your shadow drowns / you’ll be surprised what is found”. Surprise, indeed. Four albums in and with a newfound creativity and spirit, Lightning Dust’s Spectre is less a revenant and more a revelation.

Jim Di Gioia

Jim founded the music blog Quick Before It Melts in 2006 and was its principal writer until 2016, when its decade-long run ended 10 years to the day it started. DOMINIONATED is its spiritual successor. Jim currently serves as a Polaris Music Prize jurist and Prism Prize jurist.
Jim Di Gioia

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