Ian Astbury

Spirit\Light\Speed

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    5
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Ian Astbury's long-delayed solo debut shifts the focus from metal to the kind of ragged industrial trip-hop heard on the Cult's 1992 single "The Witch" (a new version of which is also included here). Spirit/Light/Speed is probably indistinguishable from what a Cult album would've sounded like circa 2000: rough and earthy, full of the mystic lyrics and extroverted performances that Astbury's been doing since early in the Cult's career. Chris Goss is an able stand-in for the Cult's Billy Duffy on the production and guitar-playing side, though it's clear that Duffy's distinctive songwriting skills could've come in handy. Though this is a solo album only a fan could really love, Astbury's transcendent voice -- one of the best of any British band during the '80s -- makes highlights out of a few songs here, including the ballad "Tonight (Illuminated)."

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