Johnny Lightning - Demo

Owain Paciuszko 19/08/2009

Rating: 4/5

Producer/rapper/singer/instrumentalist from Surrey, Johnny Lightning has self-assembled with remarkable skill a 5 track EP betrayed by dull cover-art. Lead track Initiate judders and splutters with fevered energy, attacking the ears with pleasing nods to drum and bass and dub. His sound instantly conjures up a dimly lit (apart from epilepsy-inducing flashes) dance tents at 3am during a suitably drunken festival, the kind of sound that you can easily lose yourself to. Like That has a more familiar feel and features Lightning taking on vocal duties, his voice is suitably grimy for the eerie bass and fluttering percussion of this track.

See You Again shifts things into a different gear, leading off of a squeaky fretted guitar, mixing in more electro elements (good ol' processed handclaps) and choral backing vocals to good effect before glitching into dancehall territory a la Bloc Party. This track clearly owes a debt to the recent directions of Kele Okereke and co. How you feel about it may be effected by your reaction to their style shift, me, I kind of greet it with the same level of nonchalance as I do most of Bloc Party's stuff, I'd probably dance like a fool to it if it was on in a club, but wouldn't listen to it of my own choice. But when the over-loaded dancey bits are over and it moves to the more 'stripped down' sections it's a nice tune.

Scenes throws in a sort of offbeat Ninjah vibe to its contrast between vocals and beats, and is an ear-grabbing assault of a song, that manages to succeed where it probably shouldn't (the double-speed vocals should alienate, but they oddly work for me contrasting with Lightning's menacing lead vocal). Final track This Is The Time opens sounding like the synth-score to a dystopian 1980s sci-fi thriller, all pounding bass and Oriental keys, before Lightning takes on his rapper-guise.

This is a fine EP, that while occasionally a little awkward and perhaps too familiar to the genres it inhabits, manages to be damn good fun throughout; and sometimes that's really all that matters.