When the black doom duo Light originally released it's three full-length albums, they were put out in tiny print runs that were only available from a couple of select sources and went out of print almost instantly. I remember seeing them listed over at Aquarius Records on their website and wanted to pick them up based on the amazing things that the guys at AQ were saying about 'em, but by that point they were already sold out. It would be a while before I would finally hear these three albums, but once I did, I was immediately hooked by the strange, blurred-out sound that Light created, completely sucked in to a twilight world via the bands phantasmal bedroom blackdoom. I listed to all three albums over and over, cranking them up and filling the office with the heavy waves of droning amp hiss and plaintive chords and anguished vocalizations, and realizing that this wasn't quite like anything else I'd heard before. Light's music obviously had it's roots entrenched in black metal of the most abject sort, as well as the more extreme variations of doom metal, but there's a delicate quality to this that strips away the metallic aspects and turns it into something else. The one reference point that seems most apt to me and that I keep jotting down when trying to describe this is that listening to Light is a bit like hearing a kind of stentorian blackdoom misery being filtered through the autumnal chill of Codeine's The White Birch. If that notion sounds at all appealing to you, then you need to hear this stuff. There's nothing shoegazey about Light, either, although fans of the current wave of "blackgaze" bands might just love Light's music as well. It's much bleaker and agonized and desolate than that kind of stuff though, and based on how I've been listening to this triptych of albums, I recommend all lights off when listening to the music collected on this set.
First released on their own in tiny self-released editions, all three of Light's full length discs are gathered together here for this new reissue on the Crucial Blaze imprint. The three discs are collected in a dvd-style case with full color artwork, and come with a booklet of abstract photography, an insert card, and a set of four full color 1" badges. This collection has been released in an edition of two hundred hand-numbered copies.
The first album of the set is A million dead beneath the ice. The first song begins with a squall of abrasive noise, a thick tangle of squirming guitar skree and whistling feedback, almost Skullflower-esque, all smoking amp wreckage and shrill guitar scrape, but then almost immediately we hear the faint strains of a flute in the background, followed by the band proper suddenly springing up with a slow, dismal dirge. A slow, creeping percussive clank, just pieces of metal minimally keeping time while ghastly unintelligible screams and whoops and wasted chanting waft across sheets of buzzing, extremely distorted noise and a creepy funereal riff that sounds like it could be someone playing a pipe organ, or maybe a rumbling bass guitar buried under all of the murky, cobwebbed distortion. And that flute whistles aimlessly throughout the whole thing. This first song alone is incredibly bleak and creepy sounding, a weird cross between the extreme funeral dirge of Skepticism and the shapeless abject horror of Abruptum, as if both bands teamed together to perform Gene Moore's eerie score to Carnival Of Souls. But then the second song "When the Flood Waters Came Rushing In” appears and something very cool happens to Light's sound. The simple, almost clicking percussive beat continues its dead tick-tock pulse, but the pipe organ from the beginning is largely replaced by a massive droning riff and a gorgeous slow-motion lead that unfolds for almost eleven minutes within a torrential downpour of fuzz, creeping along like a Codeine song slowed by half and blanketed in speaker hiss. As slow and lumbering as this song is, it's also really pretty, the major key chords crawling like magma as the vocals, previously howling and screeching in the background, now become more prominent and transform into weird, almost bluesy howl. The whole thing has this glacial drama to it. Then we come to the third, final song, which reaches on for nearly twenty minutes, and takes shape as a mix of everything we've heard before. Another majestic doom riff drifts slowly through the amp-haze, again layered with clean guitar, but it's much darker and more ominous, the vocals returning to their previous feral state, the whole song hanging with this cloud of dread throughout as it lumbers on, finally drifting out in the last couple of minutes into a blur of distant rumbling whir, strange guitar scrapings, and what seem like voices lost in a heavy fading mist of reverb.
The ambitious and exponentially more wretched second album from Light is Life Is Meaningless And Goes On Forever, a single, hour long epic that at first seems to pick up with the exact same minimal hi-hat pulse of the debut, the thin percussive clink providing what little momentum the music has as a single droning guitar chord unfurls like black smoke. And then the screams begin. Where on earlier Light material the distant reverb-clouded howls were relegated to the background, here that voice is right up front in the mix, issuing some of the most hideous, gargling shrieks I've heard since Fleuerty's A Darker Shade of Evil. At first the overwrought raptor screams almost border on the absurd, but as you fall deeper into this and those swooping, gargling shrieks melt into the creeping glacial dirge, it all adds up to a uniquely psychotic experience that drips despair and horror from the speakers for the entire length of this album. After a while, the guitars fade off as a piano takes over, and the music changes into this gorgeous slow-motion requeim for most of the remainder of the song. While the sound is very different, the sparse, extreme bleakness of this album is reminiscent of that of Corrupted's Llendose de Gusanos.
The final Light disc Worse than Anyone Would Have expected returns to the more bleary, abstract haze of the first album. Starting with the grim ambient dirge of "The City", Light once again bathes soft minor key guitar, deep buzzing drones and washes of keyboard and meandering flute in a heavy fog of amplifier hiss while those anguished shrieks sound in the distance. The next song "Again" is even more ghostly and minimal, the hiss and fuzz growing more prominent, the eerie minor key guitar melody echoing way off in the shadows, the sound becoming washed out and grainy, like some Tim Hecker remix of a suicidal black metal dirge. The third song is the grand closer, almost forty minutes of this washed-out, miserable grey drift, driven by a spare slow moving bass line and those haunted organ tones, a soft ticking barely perceptible under the thick sheets of softened static. By the end of the first ten minutes though, the guitars undergo a subtle change, the miserable dissonance transforming into a gorgeous slow-mo melody, again evoking shades of Codeine and that sort of spacious, brooding slowcore, and this goes on for much of the remainder of the song. There's still an underlying creepiness to the music, but it's mostly imbued with an incredible sense of sadness, of hopelessness, and a kind of absolute dejection as it drifts endlessly like a Tangerine Dream piece grafted onto the most wretched blackened doom imaginable.