Silber Records, run by Brian John Mitchell, who’s also a musician, is devoted to the progressive side of modern rock, and the ‘rock’ tag has a tendency to wear itself out long before arriving at Silber’s doorstep. This collaborative effort—the Vlor “group”, masterminded by Mitchell and serially composed by a quite populated informal collective of musicians in six states and five countries—occupies myriad modes: shoegaze, alt rock, ambient, emo, etc. As such, it’s kind of an introduction to the label itself, one release of which, Aarktica, a participant in Six-Winged, is reviewed here.
The angelic I Have Left Home, an ambient/chant affair, leads off the anthology in a wistful repeating intro refrain dominated by female chorale (a one-woman ensemble if my guess is correct), but along the way, through the 16 cuts, you’ll encounter guitars — some heavily processed, others not—keyboards, cello, melodica, strings, and percussion. The goal appears to have been to achieve the attenuated meditative drone state currently so popular in the vanguard and keep it, nicely done here. Don’t expect Lars Ulrich to be unloading concrete through the speakers or Robert Plant to be driving dogs berserk with microphone-shattering ululations.
Contemporarily, there’s a good deal of Eno, Sensation’s Fix, Aphex Twin, Coma Virus, Jeff Greinke, Robert Rich, and the prog catalogue of serious sound sculpturists and risk takers over the last few decades. Classical antecedents in Cage, Oliveiros, Partch, Subotnick, and the electronic pioneers and avant-garde movement can be detected as well. In fact, most of the participants here are more electro-Romantic and diode-Impressionistic than is normally the case. Even the moody pop of She Goes Out with Boys, one of only a few cuts that could even vaguely hope for any dimmest type of mainstream recognition, Watch Me Bleed achieving a better chance of that, is buttressed by a throbbingly muted factory hellscape settling into purgatorial neutrality. That said, though, within that fairly tight bandwidth, there’s quite a bit of variety here, all of it well enscripted.
~ Mark S. Tucker, FAME
We in the extreme metal scene are sometimes impressed by a drummer hopping on a plane to collaborate with some guys a couple of hours away, so ambient act Vlor are pretty much going to blow our minds – a collective of musicians from the various corners of the Silber roster, this eclectic project relies on the mail to share and build its beautiful outpourings, spanning countries and continents. “Six Winged” is the second Vlor album since their 2006 relaunch, an involving, imaginative, questioning kind of a record with loads of hidden angles to explore.
It’s hard to characterise what we’ve got here, simply because the collaborative working method has clearly thrown up a whole world of ideas – some tracks are slow-burning, film score affairs, whilst others work around shoegazey guitar ideas, some are earnest rock, others are snarly garage recordings. It sounds wrong but it’s weirdly right, founded on the strong, shared interests of the group, whose musical bond makes it all ok.
I’m most fond of the cooler ambient compositions, for example the keening, delicate, sultry, slow-evolving “Without Blame”, or the gorgeous, blunt-edged acoustic work of “Never to be Rebuilt”. “Tolerate the Wicked” has a warming calmness in its echoey drones and simplistic, expanding-ripple notes, whereas “Damage the Land and Sea” is far more melancholy, a creeping bass and a despairing guitar picking their way through drones that sit on the edge of your nerves. These four tracks especially show just how beautiful Vlor can be using the minimum of components. Not languidly, detachedly beautiful like the sparsest ambient music, but evocatively beautiful, reflecting the infinite richness and lovely sadness of human beings rather than machines or icy landscapes.
The tracks that explore other ideas are surprising, for example “Watch Me Bleed”, when it shimmies and roars into life, but it’s like the same characters on a different stage, fitting in well with the diverse, earnest feel of the album as a whole. While this is definitely way out in the left field, a highly individual work, at the same time I could think of a number of people to whom I would have to recommend it as I let it spin around my head.
~ Ellen Simpson, Hierophant Nox
Collaborative second album by Vlor, masterminded by Silber’s boss, Brian John Mitchell, and involving a host of other affiliated musicians from groups such as Aarktica, 6PM, The Wet Teens, Rollerball and more besides. Over the sixteen cuts, everything from sombre and contemporary folk-tainted songs, through Eno-esque whorls, progressive-ambient and slowcore, to the kind of punk-strained garage rock Billy Childish has churned out is explored. Unfortunately, although it’s clear that there are a lot of ideas here that Mitchell & co. are fully adept at handling, it’s this very same diversity that leads to Six-Winged’s undoing. If, perhaps, some of the only too brief, yet abstract, pieces, such as the fantastically titled ‘Statue of Jealousy’, had been allowed to take up more room here instead of the indie sensibility, I’m sure things would’ve been different. Whilst there’s no denying the sincerity behind all of this, the whiff of either trying to prove themselves or please everybody hangs a little too heavily…
~ Richard Johnson, Adverse Effect
I like the kind of concept behind this project set up by Brian John Mitchell (known from the Remora project) where the friendship between the contributors seems as important as the music. For this 2nd full length he got some help from Jessica Bailiff, Annelies Monseré, Paolo Messere ( Blessed Child Opera), Martin Newman (Plumerai), Mae Starr, Jon Derosa (Aarktica), Brian McKenzie, Michael Wood, Magen McAvenney, Jim Dejong and Michael Walton. The realization comes pretty close to akind of cinematographic music style. Most of the tracks are definitely moving into this style, which seems to mix ambient and experimental elements. A few vocal parts have been injected now and than. I like the lazy kind of vocals running through “She Goes Out With Boys”. Another essential piece is the kind of experimental rock piece entitled “ Watch Me Bleed”. The male-female duo in the vocals is well-produced here. In the last part of “Six-Winged” hides my favorite song from this album. “Not The One For Me” reminds me a little bit to the mysterious soundtrack atmosphere of the famous “Twin Peaks”-series. It’s just pity we don’t get more songs in this vein, but the huge input of different artists is probably an explanation for the diversity of the songs. Guitar and bass guitar both take a very important part in the writing of this release, but other instruments such as cello, keyboard and percussion have been quite essential as well. We’re just not used to get several guitarists and vocalists on the same album, which give it a little compilation form. To conclude I would say that Vlor doesn’t always sound like the most accessiblemusic, but true adepts of experimental releases will be pleased here!
Four years after A Fire is Meant for Burning, label owner Brain John Mitchel is back with Silber all star band Vlor. Again a dozen of musicians are invited to contribute to the music. Brain has created some bass lines and guitar melodies and send them around to friends who add their ideas to the music. Among those friends are Jessica Bailiff, Brain McKenzie from Electric Bird Noise, and many more. A Comparison with 4AD all star band This Mortal Coil is easily made as they were making music in the same breakable vein as Vlor Does nowadays.
Six-Winged starts with moody and breakable “I Have left Home” an ethereal pop song redolent to the Cocteau Twins. Other tracks are more towards ambient with droning guitars or repetitive bass lines. There are many short songs that sound like musical sketches and idea
s that have to be worked out but in the whole concept of this album this works well and creates a wallowing atmosphere of melancholy. The sketches of sober ambient soundscapes and drones go together with melancholic songs. After breakable “She Goes Out With Boys” you get “Tolerate the Wicked” an eight minute droning ambient piece in the vein of Stars of the Lid. Tense is build up slowly in dark threatening “damage the Land & the Sea” with a throbbing bass, scratching strings and a minimalist melodic texture. Nearly felt asleep “Watch Me Bleed” woke me up rudely. This garage rock is breaking the album and will leave you in surprise. The are many style variations including ambient and shoegaze on this album but however its eclectic nature Six-Winged sounds as a whole and even stomping “watch Me Bleed” is not falling out of tune. Lush musical textures are weaving this album together with some surprising tracks such as a cappella “Will See You again” and tender “Not the One for Me”.
Vlor has made a very moody album with beautiful ethereal musical pieces. A very moving post rock album with mesmerizing sounds and touching melodies.
Superskupinou bychom mohli nazvat sdružení Vlor, které obsahuje všechny důležité persóny Silber records a řadu dalších muzikantů navíc. I na druhé desce Six-Winged se smíchávají vlivy domovských kapel jednotlivých protagonistů (Remora, Aarktika, Jesicca Bailiff, 6PM, Plumerai, Infant Cycle Electric Bird Noise ad.) jak pomalu se plavící a roztávající kry v jarním řečišti. Představte si jamující Low, Joy Division a kteroukoliv pomalejší kapelu vydavatelství Kranky, a máte rámcovou představu o tom, co můžete od Vlor na nové desce očekávat.
~ Pavel Zelinka, Radio Wave
Dietro il nome Vlor c’è un ambizioso progetto, composto da una dozzina di musicisti provenienti da varie band e da varie parti del mondo, tra cui Brian John Mitchell (Remora/Small Life Form), Jessica Bailiff e Paolo Messere (6PM).
“Six Winged” è il risultato di quest’eterogeneo sodalizio artistico: composto da ben sedici tracce (ma molte di esse sono di brevissima durata, quasi dei bozzetti di idee sonore), l’album propone un dark ambient fortemente etereo ed evocativo, in gran parte strumentale – ma con alcune eccezioni, come ad esempio la tetra nenia “She Goes Out With Boys” – dai toni variegati, a tratti fruibile, ma spesso di ascolto non immediato.
Innegabile la suggestività di alcuni brani, tra cui “Tolerate The Wicked”, tappeto sonoro ambient estremamente cupo che si dipana in ben otto minuti di lugubri echi rumoristici, o “Damage The Land And The Sea”, altro brano interamente strumentale carico di tensione, tutto incentrato sul basso, e sorprese stilistiche, come l’inaspettata “Watch Me Bleed”, che con la sua aggressività quasi punk si discosta profondamente dagli altri brani.
I Vlor sono un progetto interessante, con una vena ambient/ethereal che ricorda un po’ i This Mortal Coil o i Cocteau Twins, ma con una maggiore – e forse anche eccessiva – eterogeneità stilistica e con una creatività ancora in fase di sviluppo, che rendono “Six Winged” un lavoro inaspettato e interessante.
~ Alone Music
Lasciati alle spalle i loro trascorsi pop/shoegaze degli anni novanta, i Vlor sono riemersi come supergruppo indie nel 2006 con “A Fire Is Meant For Burning”, primo capitolo di una seconda – e mi auguro più longeva – vita discografica. Brian Mitchell, il boss della Silber, ha lavorato a distanza con un “online collective” di una dozzina di artisti, tra i quali Jessica Bailiff, Mae Starr dei Rollerball e vari membri di Aarktica, Goddak ed Electric Bird Noise: si rischiava il sovraffollamento di idee, invece i sedici brani di “Six-Winged” scivolano senza eccessive sbavature tra lo slowcore amarognolo di “I Have Left Home” e gli scenari dronati di “Guided”, il garage rock rabbioso di “Watch Me Bleed” e le tipiche contaminazioni post+ambient+avant che sono la specialità della Silber. Un esperimento riuscito che smentisce la regola del “less is more”.
~ Raffaele Zappalà, Rockerilla