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Aaron Clift Experiment: Outer Light, Inner Darkness

Impressive sophomore outing from the Texan classicists.

Much has changed for this Texas collective between 2012’s Lonely Hills and the release of this second album Outer Light, Inner Darkness.

What started essentially as a solo project has grown into a full-fledged band, and the Experiment sound all the better for it. Singer and keys player Clift may be the leader, but he shares the spotlight with his bandmates, giving plenty of room to guitarist Eric Gutierrez and bassist Devon North, who trade solos in Kissed By The Sun. Gutierrez and North share Clift’s background in and love for classical music and those influences assert themselves throughout the album, most clearly in the impressively lush string arrangements of The Last Oasis. Steven Wilson is another touchstone, audible in the sweeping dynamics of Your Arms Hold Them To The Dark. It’s by beautifully produced and mixed by Matt Noveskey and Don Weiss, who bring out all the articulation in the playing, right down to drummer Joe Resnick’s jazzy ride cymbal work. Lyrically, the album deals with themes of light and dark, from the duality of human nature to Clift grappling with the challenges of composition in Aoide, Goddess Of Song. It’s a struggle he’s clearly winning.