ARTIST: The Veldt
RELEASE: Thanks To The Moth And Areanna Rose
RELEASE DATE: 3rd November 2017
RECORD COMPANY: sonaBLAST! Records
Of the past while in modern music, I can think of no other band like ‘The Veldt’. They are (as they like to say) virtually unclassifiable and against the practice of being pigeon holed or tied to a particular scene; against conformity and against rules and regulations. They are also (in my humble opinion) possibly the most underrated band in past memory of alternative music in America. Their songs are beautiful yet nostalgic, comforting yet retrospective; simple yet genius. They originated years ago, their history forming around the musicality of twin brothers Daniel and Danny Chavis who single handedly punched through the burgeoning dream pop scene of Chapel Hill in the 90’s and presented themselves as one of the most original bands to come from the underground scene in the USA. Over the years they were dropped and picked up by a succession of labels, toured internationally with some of the biggest names in the world and released a string of amazingly beautiful albums, one of which, ‘Afrodesiac’, I personally regard as one of the greatest albums of the 90’s. Here then, years after a stint under the Apollo Heights moniker and following up last years dreamy-trap influenced The Drake Equation, is a new EP by ‘The Veldt’ entitled ‘Thanks to the Moth and Areanna Rose’: a collection of older tracks reanimated and re-recorded from the bands past catalogue. And while generally a re-visit to the past can lead to awkward and somewhat ‘has-been’ attitudes, ‘Thanks to the Moth and Areanna Rose’ is the exact opposite. It stands as a dreamy reminder of how important the band has and continues to be. The EP had it’s full release back on the 3rd November 2017 and is available to buy/download right now via theveldtmusic.bandcamp.com
The EP opens with one of the greatest songs the band have ever written in their entire career: ‘The Colour of Love is Blue’. If you ever get the opportunity to listen to 1994’s ‘Afrodesiac’ you will notice a deep and immersive theme of nostalgia running through the music, a friend of mine coined the term (when listening to their magnum opus ‘Heather’) ‘downtown 90’s New York dreaming music’; this theme continues strongly on ‘The Colour of Love is Blue’. Rehashed, the song now features a slower and steadier drum beat, coloured and contextualised neatly with hummingly shoegaze-echoed guitar tones and an even higher vocal performance by Daniel Chavis. This restrung version maintains the same magic of the original, while also utilizing a different mood via the technical wizardry of programmer/bass player Hayato Nakao… The breathy, emotive pipes of Chavis proclaiming the words ‘we’ll be happy in the end’ is enough to send chills down your spine. ‘Black and Blue’ follows with a much noiser and alt-rock base: the song reflects a claustrophobic yet mediative mood that echoes on its brilliant chorus. The guitar rises to the top of the mix, presenting impressive playing and musical texture by Danny Chavis, backed by the somewhat simple but effective thump of the drums.
‘Fit to be Tied’ harkens back to a similar mood that could be found on some of the Apollo Heights releases: atmospheric and the slow build of the instrumentation paint a beautifully dream-pop cencric picture. This track most predominately captures the bands new found practice of mixing technological-based production with the more traditional method of musical texturing. Often ignored in the music of both The Veldt and Apollo Heights are the lyrics, which when studied on ‘Fit to be Tied’ make one wonder why this is the case… The chorus, which Chavis declares with an original mix of power and contemplation, adds another level of depth to the music again. ‘Camus’ turns down the lights even more so, sounding like its original inception dipped in neon lighting: the trap-beats that ran rampart on The Drake Equation dance around in a pan-motion at the back of the music. Where the other tracks on this EP could be labelled somewhere between soul, shoegaze and dream pop, ‘Camus’ stands almost as a down tempo funk song, melding elements of R’n’B with ethereal wave-sounding guitars. If anything, ‘Camus’ perfectly captures a band in the midst of wearing their influecnes (positively) on their sleeve. ‘Dakini’ dives deep into the bands interest in hip-hop, the backing drums and programming bounce boomstatically like the backing to an East Coast hip hop mixtape. The vocals, which dance around in the backing of the instrumentation, mix playfully with the wizzes and the bangs of the various sample, keyboard, feedback sounds through the mix. ‘I Like the Way You Talk’ is a skeletal yet bouncily dreamy take that revisits the bands noisegaze aesthetics with a wall-of-sound approach to the backing of the music. The breathy and somewhat relaxing vocals and drum balance that snakes through the verse is also a refreshing contrast to the aforementioned noise and feedback. A bizarre and off-kilter remix of ‘Dakini’ appears to mix things up, which sounds somewhat out of place with the other songs on the EP…. But it remains all the while enjoyable.
Back in the day, a key player in the foundational structure of ‘The Veldt’ both musically and stylistically was one of their heroes and generally critically acclaimed producer and musician Robin Guthrie (Cocteau Twins)… Here on this EP his production on the opening couple of tracks are noticeably excellent and should be praised. The other tracks also retain a fantastic open air feeling of soaring, thanks to production from ‘The Veldt’ themselves. Although an EP of past tracks rediscovered could have come together in an awkward fashion, the EP is instead a happy and rewarding revisit into the past. I personally am thankful that songs like ‘The Colour of Love’ and ‘Camus’, which are extremely difficult to find (even in the YouTube age), have been reanimated, re-recorded and re-released to showcase how genius they truly are. Altogether I can comfortably say that ‘Thanks to the Moth and Areanna Rose’ is a gratifying and refreshing reminder; its true appeal is in the fact that it combines the past with The Veldt’s new and re-stylised approach to writing music. It is a sign that one of the worlds most interesting and most engaging bands is still at it, and that the music they continue to create is as rewarding as ever. All I can hope for now is that the rest of the world turns their head and hears this band, hears their beauty, hears their creativity and most importantly, hears their terrifically brilliant 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 Baeble Music and Culture (USA), Sounds and Colours Magazine (Latin America, London), Easterndaze (Latvia) and the Australian based heavy music blog, I Probably Hate Your Band.