I think in general doing a tour in a region while a hurricane/tropical storm goes through isn’t too good of an idea.
Lots of weird equipment problems that I’m going to need to try to figure out. My two track recorder seems to eat batteries at ten times the speed it did a couple months ago. Much worse I’m intermittently not getting any signal at all out of my effects rig. Which resulted in the two worst SLF shows ever on this tour. It makes me ready to retire, but hopefully I’ll get everything fixed up soon. It is pretty annoying for things to work fine in the house & not at the club. Hard to figure out the problem when things are working as well….
A ton of stuff to catch up on. But below are some recent reviews of the Vlor record.
New full-length from the Silber collective, featuring appearances from members of Remora, Aarktika, 6PM, Plumerai, The Infant Cycle, mwvm, and many others. A diverse but coherent place, standing in the intersection where ambient guitar noise, post-rock, and garage aggressiveness meet, bathed in a sweet lo-fi light.
~ The Ceiling
Although Vlor has been around since 1992 in various forms, Six-Winged is their second full length. A versatile band of musicians, dubbed the Silber all-stars, Vlor goes through several sonic territories like ambient, drone, slowcore to garage rock with ease. Impressive.
Trying to review and/or cover bands and artists whose music doesn’t easily fit within specific categories is simultaneously time consuming, frustrating, and thought provoking. After all, it’s a lot easier to simply toss out a few positive sentences about the latest rock group whose songs all pretty much sound the same. Around since 1992, Vlor is a band that has come and gone and shifted from one phase to another. This album presents tracks that were recorded by Brian John Mitchell who recorded guitar and bass tracks and then sent them to various artists/musicians across the country and around the world to expound upon and/or flesh out (or more accurately, as the press release states “a collection of Silber all-stars working together). The artists recording with Mitchell include Jon DeRosa, Jessica Bailiff, Paolo Messere, Annelies Monsere, Martin Newman, Mae Starr, Jim DeJong, Michael Walton, Brian McKenzie, Michael Wood, and Megen McAvenney. Not surprisingly, this album goes all over the map…and very often totally off the map altogether. When money isn’t the motivation…it’s amazing what can happen in music. A mind-bending blur of styles and approaches…almost completely unpredictable. TOP PICK.
Vlor are many things, all of them unique: they create an avant-garde, ambient sound with keen accessibility, defiant of genre expectations; over seventeen years, they’ve been reborn in a variety of skins; the band’s current cross-nation, cross-continent collaboration on Six-Winged is rare for its ambitions and success. The sixteen tracks, waxing from drone to basement rock band, from cinematic expanse to outright aggression, is warm enough to warrant repeat listens, plunging its rich, deep, evocative mix for new sounds. One would never know that its creation spanned over six states and five continents, collecting more than a dozen artists from their main projects, all via mail. The names are too many to list (many of them familiar from the Silber Records catalog), often obscure, but the results are cohesive, a compelling record that once again screams for recognition.
So many of the tracks on Six-Winged would feel oddly out of place on former Vlor records, too well formed for the sparse, one-off lavish/luxate and somehow, too well adjusted emotionally for A Fire Was Meant For Burning. None of these comments or comparisons, however, should underscore that the record also possesses all the delightful hallmarks of a Vlor record. The wake-up-and-stretch strings on “Without Blame” or “I Have Left Home” tinge with darkness, a hint that overwhelms later songs like “Watch Me Bleed,” an angry shout, à la Nick Cave. The moribund quality is especially prominent on “She Goes Out With Boys,” something so unsettling in tone, so borderline sterile and hurtful lyrically, that it requires careful examination—if only for a chance for the listener to believe that everything will be alright.
It’s the dichotomy that is Vlor. One moment the sun is rising (“Guided” or “Maybe You Should Chew On My Fist”), and another, it’s slowly melting away.
~ Erick Mertz, Kevchino
This second collaboration between Silber chief, Brian John Mitchell and a collection of Silber artists and friends continues in the same vein as 2006’s “A Fire Is Meant For Burning”. Right out of the gate, we’re in the company of angels with Jessica Bailiff’s celestial wordless vocals over Mitchell’s pensive plucking on “I Have Left Home” – like a more meditative Cocteau Twins. Across these 16 tracks, Mitchell and friends explore all aspects of the sonic guitarscape spectrum, from the hypnotic wall of drone, “Guided” (with Paolo Messere) and the nocturnal heartbeat of the looping, Durutti Columnish “Never To Be Rebuilt” (also with Messere) to the minimalist, glacial flow collaborations with Jon DeRosa (“Tolerate The Wicked” and “Not The One For Me”), which pass into the expansive snorecore realms of Stars of The Lid, Windy & Carl, Eno, Azusa Plane and DeRosa’s own work as Aarktica, although the latter sounds like it could’ve been an outtake from DeRosa’s later efforts as Pale Horse & Rider, with its more traditional pop arrangement…and vocals!
Occasionally Mitchell & Co. step out of the strict guitarscape mode as on the hushed, late night duet with Rollerball’s Mae Starr (“She Goes Out With Boys”) or the harsh, punky metallic percussive collaboration with Bailiff, Brian McKenzie and Michael Wood and Magen McAvenney (“Watch Me Bleed”) which fluidly and expertly combines references of Swans, Nine Inch Nails, and the Siouxsie-led Creatures. The Annelies Monseré collaboration (“Will I See You Again”) returns us to a hauntingly ethereal headspace that hearkens back to the good ol’ days of the vintage 4AD label, particularly His Name Is Alive’s Livonia collection. Michael Walton’s “Maybe You Should Chew On My Fist” is the antithesis of the vitriolic title, as it brings us back to the lovely ambient snorecore of yore. The release comes full circle with the gorgeous guitar duet reprise of opener “I Have Left Home,” with Bailiff and Mitchell pulling out all the stops in their faithful recreation of the finest Lawrence & Maurice Deebank guitar duals on those classic early Felt albums.
Overall, “Six-Winged” is a virtual instructor’s manual in the type of sounds you can coax out of an electric guitar and a few fx pedals. It’s a challenging and enveloping experience.
~ Jeff Penczak, Foxy Digitalis
Back in Vital Weekly 530 we discussed Vlor’s ‘A Fire Is Meant For Burning’. It was the relaunch of Vlor as vehicle for ‘music by post’. Guitarist Brian John Mitchell sends out his playing for other to complete. An even bigger line-up this time around, including Jon DeRosa (of Aarktica), Mike vanPortfleet of Lycia, Nathan Amundsun (Rivulets), Jessica Bailiff, Paolo Messere (6 P.M.), Annelies Monsere, Martin Newman (Plumerai and Goddakk), Mae Starr (Rollerball, Moodring), Jim DeJong (The Infant Cycle), Micheal Walton (Mvvm), Brian McKenzie (Electric Bird Noise, Something About Vampire And Sluts), Micheal Wood (also of Something About Vampire And Sluts and The Wet Teens) and Magen McAvenney. This must not be understood as a remix album, but Mitchell laying down the groundwork for a piece, and his guests add their own vocals, cello, melodica, piano, or strings (or whatever else), to complete the songs. Sixteen pieces in some forty-five minutes may mean a nice average length of three minutes (pop! length), but some of these pieces are mere sketches of post rock/noise/
improvisation, which is a pity. But then a piece like ‘She Goes Out With Boys’ sounds like a real song. One could wish there would have been more pieces like this here and leave the schematics behind. Maybe that should be instructions for the next Vlor release. Still, altogether this is a pretty nice release again.
~ Frans de Waard, Vital Weekly