Tag Archives: lightning bolt

Stream: Black Pus – “Pus Mortem”

Brian Chippendale is at it again. Well, not again, because that would possibly imply that he stopped for a second. Either way, his latest release “Pus Mortem” is another solid 8 tracks of overdriven and explosive drums, synth and warped to beyond the point of intelligibility vocals.

At this point I just assume that most people are pretty familiar with Chippendale’s style. I’ve been listening so long that I just assume it’s common knowledge. In case it’s not, it breaks down like this: a non-stop swirl of drums, filling up every single microsecond, with pitch shifted, distorted vocals buried deep in the back of the mix. Actually his music is exactly like his visual art; every available bit of space is taken up, and nothing is wasted. There is very little in the way of negative space in either his music or his paintings and drawings.

“Pus Mortem” does, however, manage to balance the bombast with moments of relatively thinner textures. Take for example “Neuronic Knife” where a constant, rapidly pulsing kick drum is periodically overshadowed by rapid fire snare rolls and vocals. The foot-pedal controlled synth lays down thick, fuzzed out low frequencies that dive-bomb in and out of the track.

The constant pulsation that exists on “Neuronic Knife” is pretty prevalent throughout the rest of the album as well, strengthening the underlying primal element that are at least partly implied on any album that is drum-centric. Additionally, the album opening adds to the primal element with a snarling exhale that serves to kickstart “Heebee Geebees.” Also, just because a track focuses around an idea on a rhythm, doesn’t mean that the music is completely devoid of melodic elements. This album opening is not short on melody one bit.

Synth and vocals play a bit more of a central role on “Supergenius.” The delayed vocals rise and fall, building dramatic tension over the low ebbing synth creating an overall foreboding vibe. “Off With His Head” ramps up the spastic drumming with layered and looped vocals over top, finding time to carve out a more complex and fluid structure that opts for something that resembles a more improvisatory approach than a one-part minimalist rumination on a single pattern.

“Pus Mortem” is available right now through the Black Pus bandcamp page for any price you choose. I would highly encourage supporting Chippendale in all his efforts. It’s important to help sustain someone that is sustaining themselves completely through creating art. Throw down at least $5 I would say. Even that doesn’t seem like enough, but it’s a start. Better yet, grab it on vinyl here.

And, like it says on the Bandcamp page: “PS. I PLAYED THIS LOUD SO YOU SHOULD TOO.” Follow his orders.

Stream/Download: Zeus – “Opera”

Zeus - "Opera"
Zeus – “Opera”

Well, here is something to wake you up on your Monday morning. Apparently I should be keeping a closer eye on the scene in Italy because recently I’ve been hearing some really great music, and it’s not like they are all doing the same things either. Just recently I wrote about The Delay in the Universal Loop, a band (well, one dude) that is creating lushly orchestrated dreamy synth music; and then there was the psych-prog of Julie’s Haircut.

Now I’m listening to Zeus, and I want you to do the same. They’re a bass & drum prog-metal duo that has less in common with Lightning Bolt than you would think. I mean, I know that whenever I see that a band is a bass/drum duo I get really skeptical right off the bat. I’m such a huge Lightning Bolt fan (that’s obvious) that I never think that any other band is ever going to be able to live up to those expectations. I guess that what I forget, or fail to recognize, is that there is still so much that can be done in the format.

What Zeus does is they create highly energetic, rhythmically complex music that swings from jazzy and tight to violent and cacophonous the next. Often times, as in Grindmaster Flesh (very clever, guys), the duo is in lockstep throughout a meter that refuses to sit still until suddenly everything erupts into a static haze with screaming and crash cymbals covering near everything. They do have one thing that Lightning Bolt tends to (dare I say) lack, and that is shape.Though Zeus does still focus more on rhythm and less on harmony, they make up for it with contrasting dynamics and formal development. There’s more of a part structure at work.

The band’s latest, “Opera,” was released February 14, 2013 (how sweet) and you can preview the entire thing on their bandcamp and download it for $11, or listen to the entire thing above first. While you are listening, see if you can catch all the puns in the titles of the songs. My personal favorite is “La Morte Young,” though “Blast but not Liszt” is a close 2nd. Check out all 11 blasts of noise above.

The band is currently out on a European tour. You can find the dates below.


Zeus Eurpoean Tour Poster

New Track: Lightning Bolt – “Barbarian Boy”

Lightning Bolt - Brian Chippendale and Brian Gibson
Lightning Bolt – Brian Chippendale and Brian Gibson

Barbarian Boy

Just when I thought I was going to have to search for things to write about one of my favorite bands, Lightning Bolt, shows up with a new track. I’m hoping for a new album soon now that it looks like Chippendale is done touring as Black Pus.

So we have this track, “Barbarian Boy,” and the most surprising element to me is that the vocals are more intelligible than anything else I’ve ever heard from the band. The drumming is also quite a bit more subdued than any other LB track, though this doesn’t make it is any less powerful. Gibson’s bass plows into view, fighting against feedback the entire way. Brief moments of silence created when the bass drops out works to heighten the intensity a bit, where formerly they would be content to maintain the same brutal dynamic throughout. But the silence doesn’t last very long as the end of the song becomes blurred in a monomaniacal circular pattern of bass fuzz accompanied by Chippendale’s chanting.

The track is part of a compilation put out by Adult Swim. It also includes tracks by Marnie Stern, Pig Destroyer, Dan Deacon and Metz. You can listen to the comp and download the tracks here.

Lightning Bolt//Brian Chippendale on Twitter//Bandcamp//Black Pus


New track: Lightning Bolt – "I Found a Ring in my Ear

Lightning Bolt
Lightning Bolt (Brian Chippendale, drums. Brian Gibson, bass)

As you may or may not know, Lightning Bolt is one of my all time favorite bands. It’s the reason why they are affixed to the banner atop this blog (I took that picture the first time I saw them, in Buffalo, NY) I have spent many days listening to their entire output in one sitting, and I’ve been fortunate enough to see them live twice. If they ever came to Portland or Eugene, I would definitely drop everything and see them, and I would highly encourage you to do the same when they come to your town.

This track, appearing out of nowhere, doesn’t seem to be promoting any new releases or a tour. This is just a 20 minute free-wheeling jam that sounds similar to work from the band’s first album. Of course all of the typical Lightning Bolt characteristics are in place: frantic, non-stop drumming,  a bass line that explores one chromatic, melodic, minimalist riff for an extended period of time before moving on to the next idea and of course everything is played at full volume throughout.

If you listen through the track in its entirety you’ll hear a few magical moments when the Brians lock into an intense groove, even if it only lasts for a few seconds.  From the bandcamp page:
A 20 minute Jam recorded in the Hillarious Attic, Lair of the Lightning Bolt on 1.31.11. Straight to our trusty Tascam 420 cassette 4 track. No edits, No worries. The track might start a little discombobulated, but it congeals, soars. Swallows itself. Please download for free or send a little cash to help patch the leaks in the boat. thanks

The lyrics are beyond us now.

And then the tape just ran out.

It would be worthwhile to bookmark their bandcamp site:
This is the home of the official Lightning Bolt Practice of the Month club. Probably more like Practice of the Every 6 Months Club, but the plan is to post some of our best home recorded jams for your listening pleasure, or displeasure.
So check back there from time to time.

Or find them (mostly Chippendale) on the Web | Twitter | Blogger | Bandcamp |

And head to Load Records to purchase Lightning Bolt albums.


The beginners guide to Lightning Bolt

Lightning Bolt, on the surface, seems simple enough. Two guys, Brian Gibson on Bass and Brian Chippendale on drums, are responsible for making enough noise to fill stadiums. Their music is an all out aural assault, yet it’s not all just free improvisation and noise as it may appear on the surface. There is a subtlety to their art that can easily go unnoticed to those unacquainted with the band’s output.

Based out of the Providence, Rhode Island artspace known as “Fort Thunder”, Lightning Bolt originally began as an art school project when both members were attending the Rhode Island School of Design. The music that Lightning Bolt creates is powerful and energetic and incessantly so. It seem to break the laws of physics that a band can produce 5 albums of impossibly intense music without letting up, but they have. Their albums are best enjoyed at the loudest volume possible, they almost demand it. This is not quiet music by any means. It seems to eschew the values of any typical touring band, more concerned with keeping the energy level high than admitting that there needs to be time to cool down. The music is urgent. This is also true of their live shows. They are never willing to give themselves a break.

Lightning Bolt

Seeing Lightning Bolt live is another experience entirely. They usually play directly in the crowd, instead of up on a stage, with the crowd encircling them and at times pushing against the drums, which are placed directly in front of all of the sound gear. The wall of gear is stacked precariously behind the Brians and is seemingly thrown together from odds and ends that creates an astonishing level of volume and feedback that serves as a constant counterpoint against which they are playing their music through.

Gibson stands stoic to one side, nearly expressionless, fingers effortlessly flying up and down the neck of his bass which, incidentally, is a 5 string tuned in 5ths like a cello with the two highest pitched strings taken from a banjo, which really helps to cut through the sludge of the distorted lower register of his instrument. Meanwhile Chippendale is a flurry of non stop excitement as he desperately and relentlessly fills every possible nanosecond with a drum hit or cymbal crash. He is a new breed of drummer, the best kept secret of the underground crowd and a testament to human endurance. The complexity and accuracy with which he plays is a sight to behold, if you are able to stand still long enough and not be swept away in the pulsating crowd to watch.

The two lock into a groove and work as one, churning out music that is at once trance inducing in its sometimes minimalist compositional approach that is at the same time loud, foreboding, and fierce but firmly grounded in structure, yet not so much that there isn’t room for them to search out new ideas in the midst of a song.

Hiding behind Lightning Bolt’s wall of noise and fighting through the feedback are rhythmically complex and strangely catchy melody lines and Chippendale’s all but indecipherable and infrequent vocals that are sung through a telephone’s microphone which is held in place by a mask that he wears while performing that hides his face but makes him and his playing seem all the more crazed. Seeing Lightning Bolt live is truly a unique experience and will bring you to the heights of excitement and leave you completely exhausted but satisfied. Truly a rite of passage. Plant yourself firmly in front of the drums, hold the crowd back and prepare yourself to feel music like you have never felt before.

Unfortunately they just finished touring, but you can check their official page or their official myspace for tour dates when they post them.

To try and understand what a Lightning Bolt show is really like, check out these videos: