Sunday, April 5, 2009
(VxPxC) - Second Street Tunnel (House of Alchemy CD-R)
Adam over at House of Alchemy sent me a package recently with some of his gorgeous releases. Figured no better place to start than with (VxPxC), a band I've spent much time listening to and no time reviewing. Considering what a sucker I am for a good package, this one snagged my eye before I had any idea it was who it was--the picture here doesn't quite capture it, but the whole thing comes in this great big folded piece of cloth that gives it that relic feel you know?
As for the tuneskies, (VxPxC) are one of these bands who seems to just jam endlessly and, as a result, release endlessly. They've got a billion things out, so it's near impossible to compare one with the rest, but this one definitely fits right in there, if not outright up there with the best of them. The opener, "Distant Joy," is a 17-minute zoner that combines all the unit's usual elements--drone, psych, aimless scrape and clatter--into a nice brew of sludgy backing to some Moloney-style dementia-induced singing. Pretty zonked out stuff, with harmonica and a nicely paced chord progression that provides some footing for the group to slip across.
"Red Hand Shops" follows, and it's of course another mind-bender, taking a less heavy but equally serpentine take on the (VxPxC) sound. When the group lets it loose like this things always get especially weird and spacey, which is nice coming from a unit that could easily retain their grip on the sound at all times. Instead the piece just floats about with odd instrumental entrances and exits alongside the blips and blurps of some cheesy Casio sounding keyboard. Splendid indeed, but not quite so much as the following title track, whose 23-minutes makes up nearly half the disc here. This is where it really goes down, as the group stretch out into some cavernous and dim realms with monk-style chants and heavy rhythms. (VxPxC) always reminded me a bit of a cross between Brothers of the Occult Sisterhood (review coming shortly...) and Sunburned, but this moves in so many directions that it ends up sounding like little else aside from itself. Must have been an especially potent brew that night...
The closing "Little Tokyo" takes the damaged trudge through the last track into more restful territory, with harmonica and surging guitar lines drifting across an open space that finds itself in strangely expansive waters considering the near claustrophobic ambiance of the session. Everything is held together very loosely, but also quite gently, giving it a fragile and undulant quality that makes for a wonderful close. Another killer one from both band and label, and still available from House of Alchemy I believe.