#soundcheck: light asylum’s self-titled debut will kick your ass

May 28, 2012

Dark wave duo Light Asylum open their self-titled debut full length with the epic ‘Hour Fortress.’ The song is built around a few simple repeating elements: an 8-bit bassline, a harsh dance beat, and a modulated synth lead. The instrumental may be minimal, but it creates a perfect backdrop for singer Shannon Funchess’ super-human contra-alto to soar and crush. Her death-defying vocals shift from a low rumble to a scream in the blink of an eye. Synth player Bruno Coviello’s production meanwhile may be simple, but it is far from boring. Coviello knows when to step back, and color in the edges of Funchess’ explosive vocal lines. By packing his seemingly minimalist production with an astounding amount of depth and detail, Coviello plays the John Entwhistle to Funchess’ everyone-else-in-The-Who.

Light Asylum – IPC

The duo is at their best at their most aggressive. The seething anti-establishment anthem ‘IPC’ is a musical punch in the face. By the time Shannon screams “We’re taking the streets back man! Come on!” it almost seems like she might just smash patriarchy with the sheer power of her voice. (Personal note: the song is so badass my right lung literally collapsed while I was listening to it the first time. That’s not an exaggeration or a lame joke; that’s an actual thing that actually happened to me. I was in the hospital for two days. That’s how intense this shit is. You’ve been warned.)

Highlights like ‘End of Days’ and lead single ‘Heart of Dust’ push Coviello’s production further to the front (I’m pretty sure he samples the 4-bit vocal intro from the Turbo Outrun theme). The songs paint a bleak end-of-civilization picture, but unlike most artists (I’m looking at you, Radiohead) who evoke the sounds of computer glitches as a harbinger of doom, the production here seems to be an ode to computers working perfectly. For most of its run-time the only organic element is Shannon Fulchess. This isn’t computers malfunctioning and dooming us all, this is computers in perfect working order gradually, mechanically, and efficiently stripping away our humanity. Funchess’ powerful voice stands alone, enveloped by computers, screaming for human connection.

– Contributor: Nathan Leigh