RELEASE: Somewhere Away
RELEASE DATE: 19/08/16
RECORD COMPANY: Vipchoyo Sound Factory
This is how a conversation about modern dream/trip-hop inspired electronics music sounds: ‘blah, blah, blah, blah, blah’. Why does it sound like that? Cause once upon a time a group of musicians got together and churned out a massive arsenal of absolute 5/5 albums; think Tricky, Smith and Mighty and Mazzy Star. They layered, they edited, they sampled, they sung, they mixed and they scored hit after hit off and on the mainstream. These musicians pioneered a genre of music that has literally being trampled upon since the late 80’s/early 90’s with copycat, boring, unintelligent rehashes that involve pushing some buttons on a drum machine, putting some interesting but generic female vocals over the top of the mix and being ‘atmospheric’. Those technical wizards who do everything blandly digitally believe wholly that trip-hop/electronic music should be released as it is, without experimentation, without huge inspiration, influence or genre-bending. So it is refreshing and somewhat soothing to listen to Somewhere Away; the new LP by electronic three piece Vibrissae, an album that experiments, practices fantastic song writing and is just enjoyable. And that really, is that. If ‘Somewhere Away’ spoke anything through the speakers in its conceptual and musical language it is that ultimately if a sound is enjoyable, if it mesmerizes in its quality and is a pleasing experience, then what else is there that needs to be pondered?
READ ON –
‘Somewhere Away’ begins with a short intro track (Whiskers) that sets the mood subtlety by never directly tackling any of the sounds on the album but simultaneously teasing small sounds on the electronic palette of the genre. ‘Never Again’ begins the album with a jangling distorted guitar and pulsating beats that sound reminiscent of trance music; these sounds are all complimented with the hushing vocals, rocketing bass and shoegaze inspired synth and keyboards. The song has flashes of Eurobeat in its musical structure, but returns to a more synth pop orientated field with the chorus and the catchy, danceable riff that follows it. The song balances itself between dance anthem and alternative sonic soundscape just enough to create an intricate and energetic track; one that the listener may enjoy either way. For those searching for evidence of musical experimentation and genre bending/melding, one should look no further than ‘Incident Report’, which starts as a pulsating industrial track, layered with metallic percussion and the sound of a darkwave tracks opening few bars, only to evolve intelligently into a trip-hop song and delve straight back into darkwave inspired sounds coupled with post-punk style drums on the chorus. The song morphs and jumps neatly from one genre to another, while all the while holding its electronic basics and placing the vocals in a backseat position enough that the music and the vocals seep into each other; a rewarding listening experience.
‘Bulan’ nestles itself in calmly as another beautiful instrumental interlude, showing off all the bands tricks in a much smaller scale whilst ‘Not Forever’ is an ethereal feast of beautifully constructed guitars and glorious vocals. The metallic ringing from the previous tracks is brought into a stellar techno-inspired instrumental ‘Crooked Stripe’ which is then followed up with ‘Crooked Smile’ a four minute bass heavy dance/darkwave track. ‘Vibrissae’ show off their skill with the bass guitar, which forms a thick and tasty riff around the central beats and soundscapes. Eventually the track goes full darkwave and reinforces a heavy laden alternative dance beat, all packed together with the slick sounds of keyboard. Although the whole thing stands together intelligently, the song eventually becomes slightly boring, especially in contrast with other tracks on the EP. ‘Need’ is a heavy post-punk style song built around the opening guitar riff and the funk-inspired bass. The vocals fit magnificently in the mix as the song touches on indie rock and the intricate singing style of folk rock all the while returning to the opening post-punk riff; a brilliant and enjoyably diverse listen. The LP concludes with the epic title track, a ten minute adventure through what begins as a slow, alternative rock style riff which builds into an echoing electronic listening experience. The track itself feels like a journey, like sounds are guiding the way through a landscape that Vibrissae has built for the sole purpose of allowing the listener to roam around in, rather than just sitting and listening.
Overall the LP feels too ‘thrown together’. The longer weightier, well written and thorough tracks are surrounded by varying degrees of instrumental track, as if the band thought they didn’t have enough material and chucked together a few filler instrumentals. The LP is also greatly temperamental in its vocals; some tracks feature great amounts of vocals before two instrumentals in a row feature none, and then they return. I am not directly critiquing the songs themselves per say, rather their standing in the whole LP. But as I stated before-hand in the introduction, the pure enjoyment one gets from listening overrides simple things like track placement and the album does itself justice wholly and solely in that area. And that’s what makes ‘Somewhere Away’ great, it’s not a utopian album, but it’s a reminder that the pure enjoyment factor of a sound should ultimately shine through and inform our opinion in the greater sense. With that in mind, I thought this album was, in most of its parts, enjoyable and refreshing to the genre, a testament to the skill of the band and their sound.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Cam Phillips is a writer and above all, a music lover, who seeks to gain experience through writing and listening. He is also an avid film viewer and art and literature junkie who enjoys creative writing. His most recent published work was featured on the Australian heavy music blog, I Probably Hate Your Band.