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Lightning Bolt - Sonic Citadel
Thrill Jockey Records
Lightning Bolt play with abandon that is unmatched and remarkably undiluted since the duo’s formation 25 years ago. They are often called one of the loudest rock outfits in existence, both on record and on (or famously, off) the stage. Brian Gibson creates sounds that are unexpected and remarkably varied with his virtuosic bass playing and his inventive approach to the instrument, centered around melody rather than rhythm. The dizzying fury of Brian Chippendale’s drums twist from primal patterns into disorienting break beats as his distorted, looped, and echoing vocals weave more melody into the mayhem. Amidst the fray there has always been shreds of a pop songs discernible in the eye of every Lightning Bolt song. For their seventh full length, Sonic Citadel, Gibson and Chippendale have done the daring, stripping away some of the distortion mask to reveal the naked pop forms as never before. Their relentless energy, inventiveness and, unrestrained joy still drive their songs, pulling you in and compelling you to bounce and yes, even sing along.
In the four years between album releases, each member’s increasingly prolific creative endeavors limited their time to create together. Brian Gibson was the sole artist, musician and co-designer of the acclaimed video game Thumper, which has since proliferated across a multitude of platforms, and won countless awards including the 2019 Apple Design Award. Brian Chippendale, who has always created the band’s visual art, released the graphic novel Puke Force, was included in Rolling Stone’s “100 Greatest Drummers of All Time,” and recently collaborated with fashion designers Eckhaus Latta.
The impact that Lightning Bolt has had on underground music since its inception is immense, and remains pervasive beyond any genre tag that has been attached to them. Sonic Citadel is the work of band unafraid to challenge themselves, unbound by expectations, joyfully defiant, and possessed of the same inventive curiosity which set them apart on day one and is unmatched still 25 years later.