ARTIST: The Virgance
RELEASE: Worship The Moon
RELEASE DATE: 31st October 2017
RECORD COMPANY: El Vals del Conejo
Stepping away from a tried and trusted sonic format in the name of experimentation is a tricky and sometimes perilous undertaking. Continued advancements in music recording technology feed the mind of the modern musician and the lure for change is a relentless beast regardless of the all encompassing perils and pitfalls that surround a massive change in any artists collective sound. Taking all of that into consideration, I’ve just reviewed the latest release entitled ‘Worship The Moon’ from UK based ‘The Virgance’ and it marks a significant shift in direction in terms of composition, arrangement and incredibly instrumentation thus turning this artists recognised sound on it’s head and dumping it firmly in the ‘Experimental’ category of music for me. ‘The Virgance’ is the solo project of Nathan Smith, previously of seminal 90’s band Ripley & 00’s electro noise merchants ‘Loveless’. ‘Worship The Moon’ is his forth album to be released on the brilliant independent net label ‘El Vals del Conejo’ and it follow’s on from both of his 2015 release’s, the immense ‘Hiko Shrine’ and ‘Paradigm 3’ and his 2014 debut ‘Lost Continent’. The album was released on October 31st 2017 and is available to buy/download via thevirgance.bandcamp.com
In a cascade of synth and sequenced electronics the opening salvos of ‘Country Of The Past’ begin bombarding the senses with deep sonic vibrations. Dark malevolent bass frequencies merge effortlessly with soaring lines of keyboard, deftly riding wave after wave of entrancing melody and underscored at times with sparse percussion or the occasional drum fill. What is evident from the off is that this is a total step away from what we usually expect from ‘The Virgance’. Yes the wide scoped lunar themed soundscapes are there but usually by now they are awash with layers of hazy guitar and oodles of reverb. Instead these usually addictive sounds have been substituted with swathes of atmospheric synth and their well crafted although progressively electronic accompaniments. It’s almost as if Nathan has channelled the inner mind of Greek composer Vangelis or German based sonic genius Hans Zimmer. Not that I’m complaining at all, in fact, it’s a totally refreshing sound, one that I can personally relate to and a credit to his song writing and production skills. Up next, the deeply experimental but totally entrancing ‘Terrorforming’ floats into the ether on a wave of promulgating synth and warbling keyboard stabs. Ethereal voices glide and shimmer on beautiful pads of Jazz orientated percussion as the listener is immersed in a kaleidoscope of sonic vibrations and massive swathes of intense melancholic atmosphere. ‘Terrorforming’ is absorbingly immense and possibly my favourite track on the entire release.
‘Curious Case’ swirls into audible range caught in the wurlitzing swells of organ with glitchy but explosive drum patterns underfoot. Uplifting instrumental progressions follow a lysergic cycle of circus chic, adding a malevolent theme to proceedings as the collective instrumentation meanders and undulates along a rickety pre-ordained course. It’s impressive but a tad boring after a while and I’m wondering when Harrison Ford will appear with a speaking part. There’s an ambient hue wafting into the ether as the ten minute long ‘Dream Feed’ does exactly as it says on the tin. Twinkling keys and sampled bird calls add atmosphere as ‘The Virgance’ take an experimental sojourn away from their usual cinematic themed fair and drop headlong into an acid blotched world of psychedelic abandonment. It’s all too much for me I’m afraid as it gets a bit freaky half way through, morphing itself into mix match collection of breakbeats, eastern esoteric percussion and swirling reverberations.
The albums penultimate piece entitled ‘Lunar Power’ pulses into life harassed by a cyclonic instrumental drone and soaring swells of atmospheric synth. They collectively rise and fall through layers of reverb and delayed fluctuations, leaving sonic wakes in their path that plough deep dark furrows into the psyche before cascading into almost ethereal like instrumental flourishes. This is encroaching into sci-fi movie soundtrack territory now and it’s not long before the final piece of the puzzle falls into place with the arrival of the closing track aptly named ‘Out Of The Woods’. This track is deeply experimental, a bit too much some might say, and it swerves through passages of modern psych and ambient electronica on a whim with massive walls of reverb, hazy guitars and swooning synths all topped off with some impressive production. It’s a fitting end to what is at times a very confusing album and I don’t mean that in a bad way. ‘Worship the Moon’ has some fascinating moments throughout but is at times way too experimental for my tastes and it overburdens itself with it’s movie soundtrack leanings that can also get a tad monotonous after a while. There are redeeming features throughout with the songwriting, sonic sculpturing and production deserved of serious plaudits. I do however recommend that you listen to it via headphones at first for that all encompassing sonic thrill ride.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Del Chaney has spent the last five years dedicating his time to uncovering the best artists in the unsigned or small independent label based shoegaze, ethereal dream pop, post punk & modern psych rock from all over the globe & reviewing them for this blog – The Primal Music Blog. He is also a contributing writer for The Sound Of Confusion (Now On Hiatus). His other arm – Primal Radio – has gained considerable respect from bands and promoters alike since its conception in 2013 & has helped him in actively promoting a genre of music that he is passionate about. Hailing from Dublin, Ireland, he is a keen Vinyl Collector, Tattoo Fan & all round good guy! He is a self confessed music freak & is never far away from a studio console or a turntable.