Vowels- The Pattern Prism

posted 17 Aug 2009, 02:56 by The Editor


Just before I put Vowels' album "The Pattern Prism" into my CD player, I'd heard "The Muffin Man" by Frank Zappa for the first time in years. Then, as Vowels started and the thirty second intro "Sonny" ran into "Two Wires" I began to see Zappa re-animated, climb out of his grave and thank the heaven's that there are still up and coming bands doing relatively the same thing he did thirty years ago.

That's not to say you'll hear surreal, hilarious lyrics (in fact, you won't hear any, Vowels do not sing), or long drawn out killer guitar solo's. Simply, there is a connection between the two as both challenge the norm as they are so different, and both sound good while they do it.

However, with Vowels there is a significant sense of unease, confusion...they sound jittery. The main reason for this is the intense repetitiveness of certain songs. They are the archetypal band to be influenced by Battles. However, unlike Battles, their songs do not always culminate into full and complete contemporary rock songs, but instead simply keep going on to nowhere. Lost and awkward.

This isn't constant though. The album blows hot and cold, never just, 'yeah this is OK'. It's difficult to actually place any kind of identity on the band at all, which after a while, seems OK, particularly as "Apendix" plays on. The song sounds like the band are simply playing on autopilot, allowing you to drift through the weird sounds and broken melodies. When the sounds break and find a rhythm you find yourself engaged, but it's easy to get lost again. It can be difficult to keep up with the album, but is fully worth simply allowing it to play over you.

What makes the band controversial, and the reason they will divide opinion, is quite often they don't use their sound to create pleasant music, but rather go darker than that; making tunes from the feedback of a guitar. All too often though, the result is too repetitive and thin. There needs to be substance behind the fuzzy racket. As the album goes on and on it becomes stretched so far it almost falls apart. But that's not to say Vowels do not deserve marks for sheer balls.

The melodies aren't so great throughout the entire CD, but the frenzied whirlpool of sound is ultimately pleasing to hear. Unlike Animal Collective, this isn't the kind of band people will listen too and claim 'this isn't my thing' before becoming addicted to forever. This will annoy certain people, like Frank Zappa did, but with the right pair of ears you can find a genuinely haunting, thrilling album that, most impressively, is very complete and rounded, as if it is a living, breathing thing.

Buy : Vowels - The Pattern Prism



Pat Lee

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