feature: murray a. lightburn of the dears’ solo project ‘mass:light’

April 28, 2014

For years, Murray Lightburn has used his group The Dears as more than just a place to sculpt out orchestrated rock music, but a place for him to exorcise all of his demons, including social issues such as race and religion. On Mass: Light, Lightburn strikes out on his own to create an antihero to represent the bearer of all of his inner demons. The result is that he has birthed a character we can all relate to through a concept album that blends electronica, soul, pop, with a bit of neoclassical.

By Lightning Pill, AFROPUNK Contributor

For those that don’t quite know what an anti-hero is, it’s basically the protagonist that no one would ever count on to be the hero. Not even him or herself. In ways, an anti-hero is flawed, troubled, counted out in more ways than one, only to come back swinging in ways one could never see coming. For me, Murray Lightburn fits this. As a member of the Dears, he has used his fears, regrets and his inner feelings to create a legion of fans that sing to his every word. For anyone who has felt like an outsider, felt counted out, felt like they needed to get their own salvation, he was willing to give his heart through his music. (I guess you can say before I wrote this, I thought of Lightburn as a hero in the same way that he would think of Morrissey.)

While taking a break from the Dears, he used his solitude and the same worry to create an album featuring a whole new protagonist called The Ruiner. Though, this album would also do just fine without the story. On the first track and first single “Motherfuckers!!!”, The Ruiner spreads blame for his character as he faces judgement day, but if you weren’t paying attention, it might as well be more social commentary. “Those motherfuckers are going to bury your hands/They spend their life before a pentagram/…And they may never, never get their souls back”, sighs Lightburn. The tract on the album’s website (which for some reason has been taken down) may hint that the protagonist is talking to an angel, but if I didn’t pay attention, I’d take this as Murray’s commentary on spiritually dead people who walk the streets destroying hope in people changing the world. I’d also be hard-pressed to believe Lightburn when he sings “I’m gonna get you your soul back”. That song aside, Mass:Light presents itself as what might have been one of the scariest records to create: ones that force you to tackle a side people bury everyday.

Click here for a free download of this track

Should you be the one to stick to the concept, though, you will find that this isn’t the first time Murray has discussed religion, race, regrets and the hunger for either personal or collective redemption (see “Saviour”, “Whites Only Party”, “Demons”). But Mass:Light finds Murray tackling them from the point of view of the afterlife. In the same tract, the Ruiner is begging for his life, only to face a fate that… well, if I told you more, I would be spoiling the album. All I can say is this: one review I read of this album said that this is better off for Dears completists. Yeah, I get it. Not all solo albums thrill people, especially when the album is a rock opera or a musical version of a cartoon. But I most definitely believe that whether or not you are a Dears fan, you will enjoy this trip through Murray’s mind. This might even make you a little more optimistic about solo projects. Surely, you haven’t heard concept albums this cinematic and well thought out since that last Deltron 3030 album.

As for how to gain it, you can order it through most big online retailers or through the Mass:Light Website. The vinyl is Limited Edition, so if you want the vinyl, I suggest getting your azz in gear. You might even win yourself one of Murray’s Polo shirts. 🙂