Friday, October 25, 2013

The Lees of Memory on Velocity of Sound Records

The members of Superdrag have always recorded in service of the music. In 1998 Elektra records backed the band's next full length with the understanding they would come up with another '90s MTV hit like “Sucked Out”. The band instead went on to use every resource offered them in service of recording the best release regardless of radio hit formulas or repeating themselves. Of course they were rewarded by Elektra's shortsightedness who immediately dropped them. Since then bassist Tom Pappas has put together another project, Flesh Vehicle (who also have a single on Velocity of Sound Records). John Davis and Brandon Fisher invited Epic Ditch’s Nick Slack (from another band on the Velocity label ) to put together this homage to shoegaze and psych with the Lees of Memory.

Clicks count off the hazy avalanche on A-Side’s “We Are Siamese”. The imminent cloud on the horizon is deceptively building, but make no mistake it’s coming. Once that energy is released it can’t put itself back in that bottle. The tempo and layers grow with John's breathy vocal winding up in the middle layers in a similar mix as everything else, it’s all given equal importance in their shoegaze endgame. There's an ease they create this density, they get this insanely thick not in volume but tight separated stacks. It’s a hundred guitars clawing their way out of this vortex. They manage multiple epic climaxes in the song in a sustained, washed out memory, like the audio equivalent of a fading polaroid, all the information's there, but because it’s flawed you fill in the gaps. This kind of thickness does the same thing. When you occupy every possible molecule of the track's soundwave, there’s room for all kinds of hidden sounds to be there, anything you want. This track is really endless, throbbing along in love with it’s own massive scale unaware of the tiny melodies crushed beneath it’s feet. I think the biggest trick of shoegaze like this is it manages to not feel overpowering in spite of itself. It remains a heated wool blanket for the cold pop outside.

B-Side’s “Open Your Arms” opens in the middle of a more aggressive angry haze that parts for Brendon to crack in with an even bigger melody and lots of vocal harmony. The percussion from Nick pounds the room to keep this perfectly in line driving dead ahead. Brendon's got this optimistic take on their shoegaze sound this side going for slices of harmony more about possibilities of a new day. Open your arms - not in the relationship sense but to tomorrow. The guitar still has that slightly tortured quality of a soft shriek traveling through the massive landscape. It’s quickly reined in to shiny super pop with a slight vibrato in Brendon's vocal. A single chord becomes an entire chorus ringing out and the drums make a heavy effort so the lightness from flickering guitar tones is coerced together by this solid punch. The ultimate hopeful track, they don't have a sense of irony in this one, just an evangelical kind of purity. It’s a little crazy guys, I mean - don’t you ever have a bad day?

The smoky vinyl pressing is a perfect delivery device for the hazy fog contained within. Pick this up for the unbelievably ridiculous price of 3.89. Not just this record mind you, his entire catalog is at pressing cost. Velocity of Sound isn't making a stinking cent on these records, he cares that about getting this music out that much.

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