Lightning Bolt
Hypermagic Mountain



by kkarron USER (1 Reviews)
December 11th, 2020 | 8 replies

Release Date: 2005 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Toddlers running with scissors.

Noise music can often come across as byzantinely self-serious and depressing. But make no mistake - this album is not just a more drug-laden Sonic Youth release. Instead, there is a certain violently gleeful aspect to Lightning Bolt's music. The two Brians (drummer Brian Chippendale and bassist Brian Gibson) manage to flesh out soundscapes that are loud, abrasive, frantic yet happy, inviting, communal. It's as if the lego men on the album cover are being constantly thrown at the listener by a hyper child, poking and scraping at their eyes until all that remains are the piercing shrieks of a innocently malicious giggle. And there is a temptation to define this as the experience of listening to Hypermagic Mountain - that of an abused babysitter suffering from Stockholm syndrome.

Luckily this is not actually the case. Above everything else, Hypermagic Mountain is not having fun at the listener's expense, but rather manages to create an empathic connection. The blasting drums and rattling basslines evoke the feeling of a game of tag, with echoes of Chippendale's processed vocals just far away enough to create that feeling of sporting anxiety, of being caught, of losing and having something terrible happen as a result. But after all, it is merely a game, and this is what Lightning Bolt understands. The energy fed into and drawn from their music is not for the smashing of windows but instead an extremely potent subsitute for your morning coffee - the jolt every adult needs once worn down by the grind and bustle of grown-up life. That thrill of being young again.

So how does Lightning Bolt achieve this near-psychedelic trip into our pre-adolescence? The key is to eschew all musical cynicism and to do away with high-brow irony. An effortless cool that can only happen in a band in total sync with each other. Many tracks feel like natural and soulful jam sessions. The culmination of the shepard tone present in the (near) title track feels earned from the flow that precedes, the result is a cacophonic avalanche of tinnitus simulation that would be intolerable on its own but hugely cathartic in its context. The furious Dead Cowboy seems to devolve after its initial verses to a wave of improvisation and noodling to drown under the weight of its own entrancing, almost tribal energy. And the opener 2 Morro Morro Land shows a total lack of restraint that a more "professional" band would feel necessary to grab the attention of the listener. Lightning Bolt does not dabble in this fetishization of convention - instead, both Brians feel confident and comfortable in their musical skills and interplay, which lends the album a hugely organic, honest feel.

Yes, noise music is not for everyone. Even for fans of noise, Lightning Bolt may come across as too in-your-face and childish. But Hypermagic Mountain (together with nearly all of Lightning Bolt's discography, really) rises above this. Anyone that's been to a Lightning Bolt gig knows the energy eminating from this duo of tectonic-sounding bass and firecracker drumming. Even listening at home, it is guaranteed to contort your eyebrows and tremble your limbs in the best possible way, if only you give it the chance. Free that inner child and give them something sharp to play with!

user ratings (252)

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Contributing Reviewer
December 11th 2020


yo that's an excellent first review, have a pos

Digging: The Body - I?ve Seen All I Need To See

December 11th 2020


Album Rating: 3.5

Bit wordy, but excellent review overall.

Hope this one becomes flagged instead of that 2006 review with all the ����

December 11th 2020


Album Rating: 4.5

This would be a 5 from me if the ending was better. No Rest For the Obsessed is such an underwhelming and abrupt closer for such a trip of an album.

Good first review, though.

December 11th 2020


sweet review bro pos'd

Digging: Government - Shitshitshit [japanese death poem]

Demon of the Fall
December 11th 2020


Album Rating: 4.0

Great review, easy pos. The album definitely deserves it.

I find Wonderful Rainbow a little more consistently balanced these days, this is relentlessly entertaining but can be a tad overwhelming. It’s maybe a trifle overlong. I need to finish their discog, only heard these two + Sonic Citadel.

Digging: Bark Psychosis - Codename: Dustsucker

December 12th 2020


I watched a lot of youtube videos of this band performing live and they are fantastic. The drummer is a madman. Don't think I could ever sit through an album of their work, though.

December 12th 2020


Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks y'all, I figured this album really deserved a better write-up than what was present. I do agree that it has a bit of a fizzle out at the end, but the high is so good. The trifecta of Mega Ghost-Magic Mountain-Dead Cowboy may be the best three tracks in a row I've ever listened.

December 12th 2020


yea the other review is not good lol

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