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(42:40, Progressive Promotion Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Eden 9:39 2. Empty 6:08 3. The Supper of Cyprianus 9:08 4. Heaven 8:38 5. For Helpful Buddies 2:35 6. Touched 6:32 LINEUP: Nicholas-John – vocals; guitars, e-bow Sebastien Perignon – keyboards; percussion Frederik Hardy – bass; vocals Stephane Lecocq – guitars Thibaut Grappin – drums
Prolusion. The Luxemburg band LIGHT DAMAGE was formed back in 2005, although if I comprehend their French biography, the current version of the band didn't settle until 2013. They initially self-released their debut album towards the end of 2014, a production that was picked up by the German label Progressive Promotion Records shortly after and officially released through it in 2015.
Analysis. Light Damage is a band that I'll ultimately have to place within a neo-progressive context. As the band itself stresses that their major points of influence are the progressive rock greats of the ‘70s that may not be an ideal description for them, but as a listener who is ultimately where I find the main elements of comparison, I will add that as for a band placed within this particular context, Light Damage is more adventurous than many others, and the material is well developed, with some rather unique touches at times. The band favors longer compositions, most of them stretching towards the 10-minute mark, and they generally favor using an advanced compositional structure featuring several distinct themes and phases, with alternating arrangements and intensity as a natural consequence of that. None of the songs can be described as being strictly this or that in terms of intensity: You won't find any ballads or impact-oriented powerful compositions as such, as all creations incorporate both of those directions and usually a few more besides. One might say that the band generally moves between three or four different modes of delivery though, and usually features all of them in each given song. The more gentle movements usually feature a light-toned plucked guitar and a careful keyboard presence, in a manner that reminds of the Fish era Marillion. The next level of intensity is more elaborate and rich keyboard-dominated passages, usually darker in general tone and mood, and with associations towards the likes of IQ. The third and arguably fourth main orientation is towards more powerful guitar riff dominated sequences, sounding fairly similar to later day Pendragon, with a select few occasions that see this mode just about touching base with metal in a manner comparable but not actually similar to Sylvan. Some key details do separate this band from a few others exploring similar waters though. Lead vocalist Nicholas-John's voice is the most prominent, as his vocal style and timbre are much closer to a guy like Thom Yorke, an edgier mode of delivery with a tender, nervous quality that adds a rather different emotion to these compositions than the more normal Gabriel- or Fish-tinged vocal style often employed by bands exploring this type of music. The dream-laden, atmospheric guitar soloing, that is a typical feature in music of this kind, also has a more vibrant quality, with a subtle dissonant flavoring that gives me associations to early ‘80s King Crimson. Some of these may, presumably, come courtesy of Nicholas-John's ebow, I guess, as I'm not well enough versed in instruments to always manage to pinpoint the exact source of all sounds. Clever piano details and what sounds like brass pads in one particular instance also add a delicate but relatively unique touch to the sound of the band. When all of this is explored inside well made and well performed compositions, with mix and production maintaining the level of quality we take for granted in 2015, the end result is an enjoyable CD, and clocking in at a bit over 40 minutes, an album that to my mind has the perfect length too. Even after almost a decade reviewing albums I still find listening with full focus to an album using the entire playtime of a CD to be exhausting, no matter how good the album is.
Conclusion. Those who have a general affection for music that people describe as neo progressive rock should find this debut album by Light Damage to be an enjoyable one. The material touches base with many of the well known bands associated with this genre, yet never sounds like replications of any of them, and the band makes sure to add some elements of their own to the proceedings too. The end result is material with a distinctly familiar general sound, yet more diverse, and arguably more sophisticated and adventurous than many other bands of a similar kind. An easy to recommend album to those who find that description to be an intriguing one.
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