Numbers is the follow up to 2014s eponymously titled debut (see review) from the Luxembourg outfit Light Damage. The six tracks presented examine aspects of the lives of six different individuals, whether in the public spotlight or otherwise. While this release presents the same mix of neo-prog with a harder guitar driven heavy-riffing aspect to it, the band have not only brought in a new drummer (their third by my reckoning) in Christophe Szczyrk, but have also expanded to include an impressive array of guest musicians. The addition of strings, woodwind and an extra female vocalist to provide more textured options is a wise move which pays off handsomely on this recording.
As with the first collection the opening might not grab the listener's attention immediately as the band work out some driving metal edged rock, but the mighty centrepiece From Minor To Sailor, a superb example of full-blown expansive rock, which despite weighing in at nearly 20 minutes never seems to drag or be contrived soon changes that. This mainly guitar and keyboard driven track contrasts nicely with the more coloured instrumental tones of the opening section of Little Dark One, affording vocalist Nicholas-John Dewez to show that he can cope equally with ballads and power rock, as the track builds to a soaring crescendo featuring outstanding guitar work from Stephane Lecocq.
The variety and imagination of the band comes to the fore in Phantom Twin a spacey track which takes the bold step of using spoken interview tapes over the introductory section, an effect which is so commonplace these days that it can backfire, but which works in an intriguing way in this case and allows keyboardist Sebastien Perignon to flex his muscles. The band are not afraid to experiment and the futuristic tones of this track shade nicely into the finale, more soundtracked spoken tape fading into piano and strings in an elegiac coda, the minor chord at the end left hanging with the promise of more to come.
This can be something of a sleeper, a slow burning album which does not release all of its charms in one listen. But charms there are aplenty and it is certainly a sweet parting at the end, leaving the listener hoping to make another acquaintance some time in the near future.
**** Andrew Cottrell
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