Vive La Void - Vive La Void

by Rob Taylor Rating:8 Release Date:2018-05-04
Vive La Void - Vive La Void
Vive La Void - Vive La Void

Moon Duo's Senae Yamada is releasing her side project, Vive La Void's self-titled album on May 4th , and it's a very impressive entry into the psychedelic oeuvre.

Naturally, as you might expect, the keyboards are front and centre, and the varicoloured sounds and textures are expertly woven. While you'd expect that Yamada would drift towards a loafing trance sound in thrall to her co-founded Moon Duo, in fact Yamada's electronic experiments with Vive La Void branch more widely. Also, even though dark at their core, Yamada's compositions are playful and accessible. In some instances, we encounter glacial pop very much in the Ladytron mould (see 'Red Rider'), at other times shadowy trip-hop such as that created by Robert Del Naja's later incarnation of Massive Attack (see 'Blacktop'), but always a step away from anything too despondent or melancholy.

Yamada's vocals are recessed, spectral and deliberately unfocused. I think what's intended is a multi-dimensionality where her voice is simply part of the audio spectrum, rather at the centre of the sound picture. I like that, and I like Yamada's free spiritedness which allows for the many diversions away from what might have been a monotonous sound, but make no mistake, never is on the album. Whether it's a bit of synthesised woodwind as on 'Red Rider', or warbling synths as on 'Devil', or funky clackity-clack sounds on 'Death Money', Yamada is forever surprising her listener with the injection of stimulating sounds.

The second half of the album is decidedly more doleful than the first, but hardly less inventive. Yamada seems to have taken a leaf from Vangelis on 'Devil' with abrupt flashes of synthesiser such as you heard on Blade Runner's balletic interludes, especially when accompanied (as they were on that film) by industrial flutes of fire emanating from distant power stations. These are powerful gestures against a stable force of psychedelic trance. Really impressive, stark and illuminating. Nice variants of tempo and volume control.

Closer 'Atlantis' is a fragile piece which may be the cumulative end point for so much emotionally ambiguous music, but its artificial beauty, resembling the plucked steel teeth of a musical box, is perfectly in consonance with the entire work.

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