Review: Vision Fortune – Country Music
The second record from Vision Fortune is certainly one of the more ‘out there’ records of the year so far. Recorded in a minimalist atmosphere in an Italian villa (with little more than a few DVDs to upkeep the sanity), Country Music seems to reflect upon the psychological ramifications of cabin fever. The experimental ambient duo immersed themselves in the idyllic setting of the Italian countryside (hence Country Music) but achieve what may be considered the complete opposite effect of the album’s misnomer. Gorgeously ambient, at times Country Music hints at the dreamier parameters of the genre set out by giants such as Explosions in the Sky and 65daysofstatic and at others it bleeds its way into your subconscious into dark and uncanny spaces. Though not a post rock record, the same existential aesthetic is achieved, and leaves you at the end with little energy to do anything but listen to the record again.
This album is a highly rhythmic one with precise electronic beat samples driving the minimal tone. The opening track, ‘Blossom’, introduces this idea with a steady metronomic beat before beginning to play around with our traditional notions of time signatures. It is hard to pin down what is happening in either the tonal or rhythmic structure of the track, which I guess is the nature of this form of musical experimentation. The vocals are dreary, dream-like, with harmonies which seem to atonally bleed into one another, leaving the listener feeling a little disoriented and lost (but, like, in a good way).
The record touches on elements of chant-like vocals, most notably in the third track, ‘Dry Mouth’. After a strange introduction of discordant vocals, the chorus is hypnotising, successful in sickening and dizzying the listener through a chant like expression of ‘drink, drink with me’. The tonal tension which exists throughout the track achieves a spell-like aesthetic without attempting to be pretty or conventional in its tonality. It eventually deviates into seemingly disjointed bass notes, adding to a rather dusty and claustrophobic feeling which ultimately resonates with the chorus’ ‘sink, sink with me’.
Album closer ‘Black Crawl II’ eventually comes to sound like a giant speaker trying to communicate its pain with humans (again, like, in a good way). Certainly the most accessible track of the album, it introduces more conventional elements of electronic and rock genes. The tempo is held by a (shock) traditional drum kit, while the melody is layered with samples of what sounds like tools on some creepy construction site in a nightmare. The instrumental element once again takes precedent over the vocals, which like previously exist to further the dreamy, dreary tone of the track. ‘Black Crawl II’ hints at so many genres that it may require the invention of its own. The changing and playing with time signature hints at post rock, while the steady electronic pulse would not be out of place at a deep house gig in some dingy basement venue in Berlin. Vocally there are, yet again, elements of shoegaze, but not without that hypnotic chant-like aspect previously heard on the record.
Surely this is one of the stranger albums of 2015 so far, and what better way to start off your year than with a clammy existential crises. Lovers of experimental rock, electronica, and untried minimalism should give this a listen, though I won’t promise that they will enjoy it. In fact, this is a record that attempts to do more than entertain the listener, but asks them to immerse themselves completely into the darker spaces that minimalist modernism creates. Country Music is definitely not an album for everyone, but then again, I don’t think it was written with the intention to be.