Lamp of the Universe


Written by: BV on 25/07/2013 17:48:42

Lamp of the Universe is the one-man project of the New Zealand based multi-instrumentalist Craig Williamson. Williamson’s music can best be described as consistent drones featuring content vastly reminiscent of space rock, folk rock, psych and acid rock. This album, “Transcendence”, is the eighth to be released under the Lamp of the Universe name and, as such, one must be wondering whether or not Williamson still has enough creativity left in him to craft a fascinating album.

“Pantheist”, the album opener, is a long drone-jam that bears the clear mark of a one-man project. Much of the instrumentation is meticulously layered on top of one another as to craft a bulky soundscape, so as not to come off as being insanely lo-fi, yet many of these meticulous layers seem to lack the playfulness of something that has come to life through extensive jamming – instead they come off as carefully planned pieces of music, crafted by a man whose clear vision is reason enough for him to take on these recording projects on his own. Musically speaking though, “Pantheist” is still a cool drone with loads of fuzzy tremolo guitar and Williamson’s characteristic chanting vocals that are drenched in reverb.

Moving on to the title track, the eastern philosophies and inspirations that Williamson seemingly draw heavily upon become integrated into the many layers of the soundscape, as we are treated to yet another haunting drone – to which there’s also a layer of sitar sounds present, this time around. Despite the fact that many of these drones tend to become rather uniform, there are still some tracks on the album that stick out as more interesting than the others. With the nearly symphonic instrumentation combined with the eastern influence, “Transcendence” is indeed one of them – as the title suggests, this track might very well be the transcendence of the album, where this one song elevates to a higher level than the ones that preceded it, as well as some of the songs that will follow it.

With the album closer “Beyond the Material World” we are, once again, encountering a sort of lo-fi drone track that is laden with a multitude of different guitar layers – all with different effects going on, from wah-squeals to an echoing madness. This final track of the album comes off as Williamson’s final attempt to really make something that transcends mere music, a track that could truly be the backdrop to a semi-religious experience (perhaps via assorted stimuli). Yet, why doesn’t the track quite work then? Well, sober as I am at this current point, I am finding it increasingly difficult to maintain focus on the track itself as there are a multitude of guitar solos going at the same time whilst the rhythm remains consistently droning. – In essence, I think I’m too sober to really appreciate this particular track, as you might need a certain stimuli to get the grooves going.

To conclude, I’d have to say that this isn’t Lamp of the Universe’s most focused work but it does have a decent array of cool drones. To be fair, one could even say that Lamp of the Universe is unnervingly consistent, as this release shares an inexplicable amount of common ground with the releases that precede it. Unfortunately though, that’s just not enough to lift this release into the big leagues.


Download: Transcendence, Creation of Light
For The Fans Of: Samsara Blues Experiment, Hookworms, The Cosmic Dead

Release Date 04.08.2013

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