Fourteen Twentysix
Lighttown Closure

Fourteen Twentysix is a musical extension of Chris van der Linden – a solo efforts of sorts. Aside from a bit of help here and there, Lighttwon Closure sees the Dutchman doing pretty much everything and anything. I’m always a bit wary of such projects, as they tend to set their goals far higher than they could possibly reach. Chris van der Linden’s creation isn’t able to avoid all that, but he’s managed to put out an album that has kept my interest for weeks now.

The music lingers somewhere between Anathema’s more ambient-outings and Radiohead’s past four albums. The setting is somewhat melancholic, if not minimalistic. While much of the music is structured on top of traditional instruments, the compositions lend quite a bit from the more depths of electronic music. If there was a bigger emphasis on those instruments and traditional songs, if it was more contemporary, I’d be willing to drag VAST as another, spiritual point of reference. Yet, despite sharing a lot of similarities with the aforementioned bands, Fourteen Twentysix isn’t a carbon copy: It succeeds in having an identity of its own.

Truth to be told, this has been one of the hardest reviews I’ve written in a while. I’ve written this a dozen times already. I came to Lighttown Closure expecting a bit of a different ordeal; shoegaze, stargaze, losing myself into an ambient world. That never happened, as there are far too many small things hindering the experience.

Much of the album carries on with a relaxed, mid-paced tempo. Together, the songs follow a too linear path to cooperate efficiently for the duration of the 53-minute album. This issue can be made example of with the fifth song, “Tonight, I”. In a perfect world, it would have been the divider that breaks up the mold and authenticates the course of drama for the whole album. It starts out in a promising, ominous way but it never gets going. In the middle of the track, there’s a moment where all goes silent and you’d expect it all to come back with force (times ten). But no, it continues loitering.

Another key issue I have with the albums are Chris van der Linden’s vocals. The man does have the voice for the game, but he overuses it. There’s simply too much singing to my liking and it takes away from the overall experience. The music should have the freedom and the power to carry the narration by itself.

When the issues are with the pacing, it’s clear that the album deserves more contrast and that there’s a clear need for it to be more dynamic. As it stands now, it falters as it tries to balance between being song-driven and ambient-oriented. Not that surprising, as artists and bands with much more experience, too, have problems at times making it all flow effortlessly together.

Yet, when I let the album move on its own, it begins to work so much better. When I stop paying attention to each and every detail, Fourteen Twentysix’s bleak romanticism starts to give more. It’s odd, that’s for sure. There’s no doubt in my mind that the album isn’t flawed—it is—yet it carries the aura of a good album: It fails to leave rotation and with each listen, there’s something new and different. Much of it owes to the second half of the album. Starting with “Signals in the Sky” (that brought Green Carnation to mind) the final 28-minutes see the remaining songs play for a common, moody goal. I’d say fans of the aforementioned bands should at least give Lighttown Closure a shot – free of charge, even.

Whilst Lighttown Closure is a bit less than the sum of its parts, in the end one thing is for certain: Chris van der Linden has the tools, the right mindset and the skill to achieve something that will truly last. There’s just too much potential contained within Fourteen Twentysix to ignore. While it might not all materialize for the next album—it might not materialize at all—the possibility of it happening is certainly there. And to me, the promise alone warrants attention.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Mikko K.
July 23rd, 2010

Comments

  1. Commented by: Teeth Of The Divine reviews Lighttown | FOURTEEN TWENTYSIX

    […] amazing review website Teeth of The Divine has posted a review of Lighttown Closure. Its a great review that nails both the good and the bad […]


  2. Commented by: Clauricaune

    I agree with everything you said. This one’s best enjoyed when you just relax and let it carry you away. It’s not quite perfect, but it does its job well – I’ll be coming back to this quite a few times, I think.


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