The Tower of Light

The Tower of Light

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The one-man project Tower of Light took its name from a 19th century book claiming to be the channeled prophecy of a young girl from Alabama, and after hearing the self-titled debut, it's easy to hear why the name is a perfect fit: even though it was four years in the making, it's as startling and consuming as a vision from out of the blue. Unlike many shoegaze revivalists, the Tower of Light focuses on the style's unsettling side rather than just its ethereal prettiness, and embellishes it with elements of trip-hop, post-punk, industrial, and noise that only enhance its eeriness. On songs like the subtly relentless "New God," whispered vocals, droning guitars, and mechanical beats occupy the space where pain and beauty meet, and low-lying swaths of distortion manage to sound vast and insular at the same time. He uses this mix of claustrophobia and detachment in fascinating ways on "Cap Grass," a waking nightmare of dissociation, and "Lightnet," where equally gorgeous and creepy close harmonies hover in a sinister fashion above tightly programmed beats. The Tower of Light's experimental tracks are even more creative in their expressions of angst. The way his vocals and distorted synths bleed together and swell as he sings "I can't feel you" on "Glass Body" sounds desperate and weirdly euphoric, while "Carrier"'s percussive hyperventilating and "The Visitor"'s massive, cresting guitars are far more visceral than the music made by other similarly inspired acts. However, the Tower of Light also knows when to let listeners up for air, and "Honey Resist" and "Wish" balance the album's darkest moments with their looming beauty. Equally unnerving and alluring, The Tower of Light is a truly striking debut.

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