Saturday 1 March 2014

Vodsel - Territories

EP review by

Vodsel are a band we covered heavily last year (just type their name in the search bar for a load of singles to listen to), and it's maybe on 'Territories' that they show the biggest glimpse of the musical heritage of the area of the world they're from. Of course, the north-west of the UK was first noted (in popular music terms) as the home of Merseybeat and The Beatles. More recently you might think of all the lad-rock that followed in the wake of Oasis, and somehow continues its stranglehold on the area with bands such as The Courteeners enjoying an inexplicable amount of success. But skip back to the 1970s. Britain wasn't in the best of health; there were strikes, power outages, mass unemployment, and it was probably the north that felt the biggest impact of this. Punk bands sprung up everywhere, not just around the UK, but around the world, although it was the north-west that pushed things forward, that took that experimental leap and combined this crude genre with the desolate sounds of eastern Europe where the situation was even worse.

On 'Hinterland' you can feel the industrial electronic sounds of the Berlin scene being pushed together with the music being made by much of the Factory Records roster. Vodsel seem as equally inspired by Joy Division or even The Fall as they do by krautrock; both of which would go towards shaping the darkwave sounds of Depeche Mode and co. This duo follow very much in that lineage. The music is icy and almost inhuman - the product of machines, not people, and the outlook is bleak - "there's never any choice for you". They get even harder-edged on the robotic 'The Last Night', and once again the atmosphere is cold and there's a sense of longing or jealousy and being at a loss ("you've got what I can't have... I'm out of my depth... I'm exposed"). The retro beats lift the song so that it doesn't wallow in any kind of misery or self-pity, although the deadpan delivery prevents you becoming too attached anyway. Many may disagree, but the best could well be saved for last. The mood lightens slightly for 'Karelia' ("I can see again, I can breathe again"), although it's still impenetrably forbidding in its atmosphere, just giving us a quick flash that there's more soul here that meets the eye. A trio of well-crafted songs with a nocturnal feel, and a good addition to their sonic arsenal.

Vodsel's website

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