Light is the high-point of her work as E+E, a lot of which is now hard to find. (You can get a glimpse from her DIS mix and on Bandcamp.) In E+E's world, toilets flush over glittering ambient tracks, Central and South American drum patterns spar frantically with videogame samples, and pop acappellas are reframed as prayers to the eternal. The results are all the more affecting because the elements are well-known. As Crampton told RA's Maya Kalev, "Working with recognisable references …, [the work] belonged to the listener the way it belonged to the referent the way it belonged to me—and the music had no goal other than the desire to embody and connect."
Crampton has since started afresh under her own name. Last year's Moth / Lake 7-inch and American Drift LP mostly ditched samples in favour of her own playing. Structures were more measured and uglier sutures healed over. Crampton's philosophical agenda has become more visible too. When I saw her perform at last year's Unsound festival, she interspersed her tracks with readings from a paper she'd written. Crampton is critical of traditional academia, but her writing shares some of its bad habits, including a disinterest in clarity. Her music remains unique, and her political perspective important, but that "desire to connect" seems to have dimmed.
Light sits between these two phases of her career. It's more ambitious than her earlier music, and Bieber or Rihanna acappellas are supplanted by Houston singer Lashay, who voices famous songs with a Burial-like bedroom murmur. But the emotional peaks are still extreme, and the album lurches jarringly between two states. One involves blasts of hyperactive sample-noise; the other rippling oceans of ambience. The contrast makes for a bumpy ride, but that's presumably the point.
In the former category is the excellent "Big-Fire," on which synth flutes skitter over deafening layers of drums and voices. At the other end of the spectrum, Lashay sings Rihanna's part from "Take Care" over stately piano on "Sword," and takes Bonnie Raitt's "I Can't Make You Love Me" to a whole new plane of heartbreak on "Fire Gut." The incredible "Omega Plate" places John Mayer's syrupy "When You're Dreaming With A Broken Heart" over Henryk Górecki-esque strings for an almost unbearable outpouring of sorrow. At the climax, a swarm of Formula 1 cars zooms past the speakers. It's a harsh, ugly sound, and one we're all familiar with. In Crampton's hands it takes on biblical dimensions.