Verma - Sunrunner

by Rob Taylor Rating:8.5 Release Date:2014-05-26

I'll cut to the chase on this review. Sunrunner is a great long-player from Verma. For fans of heavy psychedelic rock, you’ll be missing something really worthwhile if you pass these guys by. 

Since 2010, Verma, from Chicago Illinois, have been engrossing a cult audience with sometimes brilliant experimental psych-rock pastiches, based around one or two simple melodic ideas. Krautrock - in particular, groups such as Neu, Can, Popol Vuh, and Amon Duul - are said to be the band’s main influences. Their exposure to date has been via live performances, cassette and vinyl sales, and downloads on Bandcamp. 

Verma are not fly-by-night copyists, however. They are technically proficient, with a visceral excitement to their performances, particularly their live ones, if the YouTube videos I watched are any indication. A clip of them playing live at a venue called 'The Burlington' in 2013 witnesses Whitney Johnson playing a beautiful, yearning introduction on her viola, replete with Middle Eastern textures, as the band slowly builds up to a cacophony of sound, propelled expertly by the seismic bass of Rob Goerke and the understated but powerful drumming of Zach Corn, culminating in some buzzing freak-out guitar work by guitarist Johnny Caluya. 

On Sunrunner, tracks like 'Chrome' and 'Hologrammer' deliver blissful and ecstatic release from tensions derived mostly from song-oriented introductions. The disembodied vocals, meanwhile, are sometimes a little obtrusive, although never enough to undermine the powerful instrumental thrust.  

Some tracks are too truncated, clocking in at under five minutes. I wanted more of the face-melting psychedelia to wash over me. The album is barely 30 minutes long, so it’s a curious move to edit your works down when you‘re flying full-steam. Perhaps Verma reckon they can attract a wider following with shorter-length compositions. Their strength, however, is in longer musical structures. Sunrunner is nonetheless a wonderful primer or snapshot of a band craving wider exposure.     

In a more egalitarian marketplace, less given to mass consumption, this group might actually garner the kind of critical approbation they deserve. Blink at this moment and they might be gone to you forever. 

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