White/Light gets brighter | Bleader

White/Light gets brighter

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Now that guitarist Matt Clark is studying law at Washington University in Saint Louis, his duo with Jeremy Lemos doesn't play around town as often as it once did. But I don't think the (relative) absence of White/Light has necessarily made my heart grow fonder--that is, I don't think it's the reason I find their recent album, Black Acts (released by Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley on his Smells Like label), to be a big leap forward. Drone is still the main course, but this time out the duo pay much greater attention to dynamics; their pulsating onslaughts don't feel so airless, and the difference between Clark's guitar and Lemos's electronics is more clearly demarcated.

There are still some face melters, so crushingly loud that the sound feels like the walls closing in on you, but tracks like "Bree Daniels" are ambient and almost spooky--not so much isolation-tank calm as 2001: A Space Odyssey creepy. Elsewhere White/Light sound like backward black metal, loops of revving motorcycles and squealing car tires, echoing elephant cries, the muffled hum of jets flying high overhead, or the waking yawns of a dyspeptic ogre--the music is like a sonic Rorschach test.

White/Light finish up a holiday-break tour Saturday night with a gig at the Empty Bottle.

Today's playlist:

Supersilent, 8 (Rune Grammofon)
Josephine Foster, This Coming Gladness (Bo' Weavil)
James Blackshaw, Litany of Echoes (Tompkins Square)
Lenine, Labiata (Universal, Brasil)
Rudresh Mahanthappa's Indo-Pak Coalition, Apti (Innova)

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