Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Vaura— An Expedition Into Foreboding

It's been said before that Stanley Kubrick seemed like a classical composer who created films instead— that the images played out more like arias and overtures than a matinee movie. The inverse of that is probably the only way to approach Selenelion, the debut LP from Vaura. Less a collection of songs and more like an expedition into an elegantly foreboding universe, the eleven tracks that comprise the latest release from Wierd Records sound as if they were each crafted to evoke unearthly scenery and monolithic events. From harsh wild distortion and aggressive screams to cold and shimmering clean guitars and vocals, the spectrum of sound on Selenelion is both varied and also atmospherically cohesive. Thunderous drums, droning synthesizers, percussive metals, acoustic guitars, and perfect vocal arrangements that sometimes approach ritualistic plainchant recall artists like Ulver and Swans. Vaura's particular blend of brutality and romantic melodicism can be attributed in part to the stylistic mesh of musicians: Kevin Hufnagel, Toby Driver, Josh Strawn, and Charlie Schmid also play in Gorguts, Dysrhythmia, Kayo Dot, Secret Chiefs 3, and Religious to Damn. 

Selenelion was recorded and mixed by Colin Marston of progressive black metallists Krallice, and signals a nod for Wierd Records to the roots of founder Pieter Schoolwerth who is also member of the seminal noise outfit bloody minded and a totally continuing, cerebrally... almost  perpetual supporter of acts like Locrian. 

The album title refers to a horizontal lunar eclipse: the moment at which the sun and the eclipsed moon can be seen at the same time. With song titles referencing everything from an Etruscan demoness to a Luciferian take on the conversion of St. Paul, and with artwork by the German photographer Alexander Binder, the unifying thread is an unmistakable sense of a shadow-drenched enigma. "Drachma" refers to the coins that bought passage for the dead into the underworld, suggesting that everything following that track is part of an Orpheus-like journey. 

But repeated nods to the occult literature of Jorge Luis Borges, in particular to "The Aleph" and "The Zahir," two stories that deal with infinity and vision, suggest that beyond the the dark hallucinations there is also a serious meditaition taking place on the limits and paradoxes of seeing. Approaching such subject matter by way of something as invisible and intangible as music, Vaura invites the avid and sumptuous listener to share in a completely visceral, yet intimate ceremony of almost insanely tempting  sensuality, depravity and a totally necessary destruction. 

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