By: Sam Birkett
VASA | facebook | twitter | bandcamp |
In a scene as small and intense as the UK math and post-rock scene, a band can become a name in very few, very untidy households, very fast. It is however still remarkable how well-beloved the massive, bright hooks of Glasgow’s VASA have become since their inception in 2011. They’ve relentlessly toured the UK off the backs of a stunning debut EP ‘Never Have Dreams, 2012) and two tantalising singles, (‘Not a Cop’ and ‘Clamps’) and simply through this and a relentlessly positive presence as both punters and musicians they have won many hearts. It’s incredibly satisfying to see a beloved small band reach their debut LP, especially since we’ve seen so many fall tragically at that hurdle. (Piglet, forever in our hearts) VASA have reached it and they have leapt it spectacularly, unleashing a 10-track of pure joy that you can show all your cynical friends who think all math and post-rock is too serious whilst dancing maniacally [insert math rock gig guy link].
VASA have changed a little since the sad-but-groovy ambience of ‘Never Have Dreams’. They’ve toured and toured and toured some more, and the intense enjoyment of loud, bright, dancy math from the crowds they’ve pulled has soaked in to their sound. More crisply produced than their earlier stuff, Colours’is unsurprisingly bursting with different hues, with some majorly major chords and twinkly riffs twisting around each other throughout the record. The good old loud-quiet-loud dynamic is here in full force, but the moments of calm are loaded with the band’s eagerness to get back to the wild grooving.
This isn’t a bad thing, per se, but besides the short pair of palate cleansers that are ‘Punched’ and ‘Unpunched’, the record can feel a bit overwhelming: given its 40 minute run time, there is definitely a place for a bit more of the lovely atmosphere of past tracks like ‘Something Awful’ to make the next uplifting riff all the more so.
But away from petty gripes: this is a wonderfully enjoyable record. Rarely is a band so audibly uncontrived and passionate about the sound they are making than VASA are here: the irresistible energy of And So I Watch You From Afar’s early work has found a renaissance with these guys. ‘As Long as It Doesn’t Explode’, ‘Not a Cop’, and ‘The Angry Dome’ all develop in a completely natural, almost improvisational manner. They are tracks that tickle the brain but punch straight for the body and I defy you not to imagine leaping around like a kid with Halloween sugar rush to it live – or, if you’re a soul more liberated than me, just do so in your room.
Closing track ‘Poseidon’s Kiss’ is one of the most recent tracks that they band have written, being completed just before recording the album; its impressively varied composition and anthemic finish ring loudly of hope for the future of this band. They clearly write, record and play for the love of doing so, and so long as that lasts I reckon their music will keep growing in ecstatic force.
Perhaps the truest indication of VASA’s status as house melodymakers is bassist John Niblock’s place on nigh every math rock-friendly toilet in the country in laser-precise, absurd graffiti jokes: whether he really is pure daft about the Stereophonics an’ that remains a mystery, whether VASA are a treasured band doomed to be called upon by math and-post-rockers for entertainment ‘til they croak their last is not.