Hypermagic Mountain – Lightning Bolt
Years ago, during a vicious summer storm in small town Texas, the power went out, killing both the lights and the Playstation. My roommate and I headed to the porch and beat drums until the sky turned Space Invaders green. The light, which seemed to emanate suspiciously from the local Wal Mart,
shifted quickly through half of the color spectrum, flashed out, and then blasted forth with an even more supernatural green that turned the midnight skies to an iridescent dusk.
Obviously, we had to explore.
We hopped in the car, making up lists of all the things extra-terrestrials might need at Wal Mart (lighter fluid, yo-yos, Cheez-Its, ponchos), and headed into the greenish gloom. Snakes of green light lashed the skies above the treeline. As we rounded the corner behind the grocery store, the
spectacle fell clearly into view. The storm had fried nearly a dozen electrical transformers in the neighborhood, and it was more than the sub-station could handle. Emerald energy was bursting from the sub-station, blasting out into the sky without pattern and without pause.
(especially "Magic Mountain," which is ascending to a fiery collision as I write this) could easily have been the soundtrack to that electrical explosion. It has the same unbridled sense of release, the same untamed mania. For that matter, it could just as easily be the soundtrack to a savage and
bloody jailbreak played at hyperspeed.
Listening to Lightning Bolt's Hypermagic Mountain feels like being repeatedly bludgeoned in the head with a croquet mallet. It's punishing, relentlessly aggressive, mind-numbingly repetitive, and completely absurd. The pulse of half of the record mimics almost exactly the thunka-thunk
thunka-thunk you get when your tires stray onto the mid-stripe bumps on a two-lane road at about 75-77 miles an hour. It's cock-rockin' metallic fury coming at you with a senseless rage, replete with the occasional stuffed-tights guitar histrionics and finger-tapping we fought so hard to bury
after the pitiless death of hair-metal. It's second grade math rock. Whereas most math rock evinces an algorithmic complexity, Lightning Bolt is simple addition. 2 + 2 = I'm gonna rock your freakin' face off.
It is good? Hell I don't know. It cracks me up, and that's gotta be worth something. If you live near construction sites and are awakened by jack hammers, you probably don't need this, but it might be just the thing if you're looking to vent three years worth of pent up frustrations with a
vicious bout of thrashing and a side of hysterical giggling. After repeated listenings, song structures (some of them with an accreting density) emerge from the clatter, but the "songs" don't seem to get in the way of the general ass kicking. Occasionally, someone screams insensible noises into a
mic. The liner notes offer virtually illegible transcriptions of these virtually indecipherable shouts, which is nice.
The bare bones recording approach (no overdubs, mostly live, mostly two-track or DAT) gives the listener a front row seat to the fury; it holds your feet to the fire. And the noisy clatter is worth exploring, if you can absorb the beating. Things are happening in there — beneath the
spastic swirl. Whether the right to explore those happenings is worth being beaten with a bag of oranges over is up to you.