Review Summary: Goodbad... sorry.
At what point do walls of lush, slow-moving synth and airy vocals become repetitive and boring? Well, at the point when you write a 15-minute piece where almost nothing at all happens at all.
Looking to build from the musical success of his mostly solo debut Sol29
, which showcased an impressive blend of post-rock and Floyd-esque prog that only needed expanding for the band to become a unique forerunner of the modern post-prog scene, Giancarlo Erra enlisted some friends and Nosound became a full band. Lightdark definitely benefits from this, losing the sometimes two-dimensional production of its predecessor with the addition Gigi Vito’s much stronger drumwork and Gabriel Savini’s rhythm guitar but this is still Erra’s show.
Controlling almost all of the songwriting, he brings exciting progression with tracks like album highlight Kites
which makes beautiful use of Marianne de Chastelaine’s cello in its crescendo second-half, and the (even more than usual) slow, piano-led lament The Misplay
’s Tim Bowness also features on Someone Starts to Fade Away
which borders on the 9-minute mark but manages to carry its length relatively well, a chance for Erra to show his lead-guitar prowess which he can channel such delicate emotion into, as if an extension of his body.
It’s here that Erra is finding the balance between slowness, subtlety and the sadness that is swiftly becoming one of Nosound’s trademarks, though it’s not yet perfect – we don’t see any of the stunning pieces found on their next two albums such as Some Warmth into this Chill
. Also, when this balance slips, as it does frequently on this album, we have songs that are not bad, but resoundingly average.
, one of the more ‘active’ tracks suffers from this. While its composition is not bad and it features one of Erra’s always enjoyable solos, there is nothing special about it to make it more than just “a song”.
The intended centrepiece of the album, From Silence to Noise
, is sadly its least eventful part, featuring pleasant but uninteresting droning keyboards, which does nothing to help the concept of the lyrics, which could be deeply moving if accompanied by good enough instrumentation.
Lightdark can be seen as a transition album as Erra gets used to being in control of a full band and learns to develop his songwriting to reach the heights of their first and next albums, though there is still impressive stuff here that works to entirely prevent it from becoming a pointless snooze-fest… even that 15-minute piece I’ve been banging on about has a spectacular outro.