Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Who is Vision Through Sound?

Being as over half of BU's students seem to be from Long Island, some WTBU fans may be familiar with the name Vision Through Sound. Last year, Newsday's music critic named their album, Cheer Up Chap, Middle School Isn't Everything, as one of the most creative and accomplished albums to come out of Long Island in 2007. And this month, they've been named Band of the Month by Aural Fix. But true Vision Through Sound fans know that the four-piece alt. rock band's audience spans further than the suburbs, gaining them a fan base throughout New York City and other parts of the country. Rightfully so: in contrast to most bands that come out of The Island, their original sound and dark sense of humor proves they've absorbed an array of classic rock and literary influences. (They tend to attract fans who are also into the Radiohead, Nirvana, and The Smiths.)

On their new album, The History of the Damnable Life and Deserved Death of Vision Through Sound (released August 15), freaky vocals, group chants, screams that might be cries for help, and female harmonies wrap around some of the most thought-provoking and mindful lyrics that songwriters Andrew Krowlikowski and Franny Berkman have ever written. “Po-Tee-Weet?” is the band’s heaviest, angriest song to date, drenched in political bits that comment on society at large; the zombies and magic tricks that surface in “Abra” meditate on the meaning of decrepit romantic relationships; meanwhile, all tracks are soaked in the dark evidence that these guys have spent a lot of time in their heads, at the library, reading a whole lot of Vonnegut.

But the album is a far throw from a downer: Krowlikowski’s uplifting, trademark vocals return and take center stage, peeking in and out of Fran Berkman and Mike McManus’s melodic, memorable guitar riffs and bass lines (part psychedelic/dance/funk, part Nirvana/Pixies/Pumpkins) that seem to sometimes fight for the spotlight, all while the three run full speed ahead, away from Mike Sarna’s fast-driving drums. Cameos from ex-Nothing Plural members Michelle Kovacs and Chris Fleming on trumpet, flute, violin, and cello, layered over other various accompanists on bird flute, Theremin, xylophone, bells, clapping, grunting, and general freakishness, make for some of the most epic, crazed instrumentals to ever surface on a VTS record.

“Missionary Men” is undeniably the album’s defining track, a representation of the band’s ability to take a dark, terrible situation and turn it into an intelligent dance song. Listen to the song (as well as three other tracks from the new album) on the band's MySpace, here: myspace.com/visionthroughsound.


Spencer said...

Came up with a GREAT idea! -- Why don't you play it on the radio!

liz pelly said...

well, of course.