At nearly 26 minutes long and with no production breaks, you’d be forgiven for initially thinking that Power + Light is an alt-rock explosion trying desperately to find its feet in a field of its own shrapnel. But give the record some much-deserved attention and the intense live atmosphere 50 Foot Wave notoriously create seeps through the cracks torn by the driving rhythm section and roaming electric guitar. Emerging as a 30-minute live dirge of a demo summoned from the heart and soul of frontwoman Kristin Hersh, it was then divided into seven separate movements that barely give bassist Bernard Georges, drummer Rob Ahlers and guest cellist Victor Lawrence a chance to mop their foreheads.
Because of its construction, Power + Light really must be appreciated in full. This isn’t a drop in, drop out affair, which potentially ruins any chance of commercial success. To the band’s credit, I suspect that isn’t a concern. Musical techniques aside, the whooping vocals are a key attractant and are not dissimilar to the innovation displayed on Rose Kemp’s Unholy Majesty. Of course, the pioneering Hersh is truly in a league of her own and it feels unlawful to draw too many comparisons. Melting away and into the stampede of drums, the singer’s growl is highlighted best on the second to last segment. It’s anything but, as she bellows, a “waste of space”.
This is not a record for the faint hearted; it’s clear that blood, sweat and a genuine thirst for discovery have been poured liberally into every second. The trio’s drive and complete disregard for conventional structure is to be admired, and Power + Light should be championed hard for the hypnotic success that it is.
UK release date TBC; stream the whole EP for free here.