lightning-boltLightning Bolt are a mess. A mess of sound, a mess of energy and ideas. On the first couple of listens, the roar and clatter of their new disc Earthly Delights comes off like one, massive, hard, flat surface; a wall of rhythm and volume, each track disappearing into the next with nothing to distinguish them but differing tempo. But Lightning Bolt don’t make music for dilettantes and day-trippers. The close listener will be rewarded by the tiniest of details in the murk. It’s a musical seeing-eye picture, chaos that conceals order.They’ve always been good at giving their records and songs evocative, picturesque titles, often bringing to mind the vastness and beauty of nature while the music bludgeons the senses. This gives the listener the impression of being dragged bodily through increasingly outlandish landscapes. First track 'Sound Guardians' is all stuttering, repetitive fuzz-bass and frenzied drumming, as though the CD were glitching, Brian Chippendale’s habitually-distorted, completely indecipherable vocal coming off like Jon Spencer through heavy gauze. It’s followed at breakneck speed by the tin-pot drums and frantic riffage of 'Nation of Boar' (see what I mean about those titles?) which wrings a surprising amount of tension and drama out of its naggingly circular riff, which eventually spirals off in a haze of wah-wah.'Colossus' lives up to its bombastic title, Brian Gibson’s bass creeping in like a rural ballad, Chippendale muttering in high-pitched tongues over his head, before the bass becomes thunderous and weighty, leading us on through long canyons of wah-wah and skittering drum.'The Sublime Freak' starts like the Addams Family Theme fed through a blender, and continues as eastern-tinged punk-psychedelia played at three times the speed it should be. 'Flooded Chamber' departs slightly from the established script, Gibson’s guitar watery and repetitious, a Steve Reich minimalist piece taped off a badly-tuned radio that’s also picking up the gurgling horror of some primal scream therapy from another station at the same time.No break for the next track Funny Farm pure Cajun stomp whose frantic chugging dissolves into the entirely lovely 'Rain On the Lake I’m Swimming In', an aquatic reverie which features the closest Lighting Bolt ever come to ambient music. The guitar overflows with Eno-esque expansiveness while Chippendale gibbers and hoots around it, a one-man flock of geese. This idyll is short-lived as the elephantine squall of S.O.S. rears its panicky, hard-riffing head. By far the noisiest and unfriendliest track here, it sees the two Brians treading water a little in what sounds like a straight-up tribute to Boredoms circa 1990. As a track it’s energising but forgetful, too little structure to satisfy even by Lightning Bolt’s standards.They finish on the epic 12-minute 'Transmissionary', which feels much more like it. There’s an actual destination this time, and Gibson’s bass sounds like it’s boring a hole in the centre of the earth. The track pummels the listener into a trance-like frame of mind, through sheer bloody-minded repetition (that word again) and ends on a tiny bit of backwards tape loop, a psychedelic cliché resurrected. Lightning Bolt’s one drummer/singer, one bassist dynamic mean that in their current incarnation it’s unlikely there will be a sea-change in their sound any time soon, but for the most part this garden of Earthly Delights is blooming with a riot of colour and sound, even if it does give up its subtler nuances grudgingly. A little effort never hurt anyone though, did it?

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