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4.0 out of 5 stars Adventures in MPC, 24 Jun 2013
By 
Gannon (Manchester, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Fantasy (Audio CD)
Whether it's being put to use in the Black Mountain backing line or set centre stage under her and fellow mountaineer Joshua Wells` Lightning Dust moniker, there are few that would contest with Amber Webber having one of the most unique and intoxicating of singing voices. On Fantasy however - the pair's third LP together - her trademark flutter is reined in a little, finding fresh levels of innocence and beauty in doing so, such as during the touching lullaby "Agatha", which strips back almost as starkly as the latest Bat For Lashes album. On the acoustic "Moon", so too does Webber again profit from tackling a folk-like strain of tenderness.

In the main though, Fantasy is more of an electronic outing for the duo, at times some distance from the campfire-friendly self-titled debut of 2007, as well as 2009's Infinite Light, which spliced a similar sound with easy-going psyche-pop. That Wells has got himself a 90s-era MPC sampler/sequencer in the meantime couldn't really be more evident, its budget arrangement and tinny percussion supplying a minimal cast of bedroom-esque beats with which to work. For example, the sparse clicks and scuffs of "Mirror" round out at chorus points into the sort of kaleidoscopic 16-bit electronica that is only apt for the album's choice of cover art.

Whilst reliance on these structures is far from a poor idea, there's nevertheless reason to celebrate come more shadowy exercises such as the dark-hearted "Loaded Gun", the conflict between its harsh repeats, robotic and Webber's fluid movement between bars helping to define it as one of two tracks that elevates Fantasy from acceptable to enjoyable. Similarly welcome, the deceptive "In The City Tonight" is downright poker-face as to its intentions until in drops a huge bass buzz topped with skittish keys - a brave move that is totally nailed and given space to breathe during a outro awash with real-life stings.

Given Lightning Dust's evolution to date it's pretty difficult to predict their next step, but using their previous form as a guide, Webber and Wells would seem unlikely to fall from grace, even if they stumble. Fantasy sees them teeter, but then spring back with a knockout blow.

Advised downloads: "Loaded Gun" and "In The City Tonight".
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Fantasy
Fantasy by Lightning Dust (Audio CD - 2013)
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