reviewed by Jack Derricourt
How many times have you walked down the street or stood by a dramatic body of water, imagining your life had a soundtrack? The most promising musical artists can make us feel as if we have been given such a gift, whether it is spoken through guitars and feedback, or strings and gongs, or a throbbing bass tone network. The debut release from Vague Mémoire, With the World of Dreams, is an imaginative collection of loops and live mixes that threatens to worm its way into your speculative soundtrack.
The album, released by Montreal’s Brothers and Sisters records this month, is a mellow one on the whole. Dub and Krautrock team up all over the tracks, fusing driving percussion with ghostly samples. If I had a car to drive, I would play this on a long, dark night ride into the heart of Northern Ontario, as twists and turns mounted up and became innumerable. And in case you’re looking for credentials, Byron, the producer of this electronic feast, was one of the group of musicians that backed up Damo Suzuki last year.
The settings for With the World of Dreams are appropriately diverse. Voices fill up “Bad Memories” like a deep proscenium stage. Synth lines stretch out, telling a long tale, while the puckering lyrics pop up like gophers. It’s an interesting effect, one that demonstrates Vague Mémoire’s unique take on the traiditional elements of melody and lyric from the first moments of the full length. “Breathe Into the Pocket” is adversely reserved, synth strings cast off in the distance while muted beats keep control of the foreground. The chugging loops of “Permanent Phase” feel like a benumbed journey up river, into the heart of the jungle; glittering tones cast back from left channel to right, but a sonorous beat continues steadily along, like a singing clock. These are very different terrains, places that Byron wants listeners to dream within, and cast themselves anew with each change of setting.
If you like electronic music, you’ll find a lot to enjoy on this release. Byron has found a method of sonic assembly that works for him, yet he pushes the music in enough directions to keep things interesting. If, like me, you don’t know much about the world of loops and ticks, this album offers an easy introduction to some of the more mellow elements of contemporary electronic music. Give it a shot the next time you’re wishing for a soundtrack to ease your mind — the journey Vague Mémoire will take you on is a beautiful one.
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)
Top Tracks: “Bad Memories” ; “Permanent Phase”