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Via Vegrandis

Via Vegrandis

[Flannelgraph; 2013]

By ; April 29, 2013 

Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOG

It came to me on a Tuesday night. You know those instances when a song stops you in your tracks because it reminds you of another? It’ll usually be something tiny, like the way a phrase is uttered, or how a cadence settles, or the particular sound of an instrument. You’ll be listening to a track that makes for an affable listen, and then it’ll make itself obvious and unavoidable from thereon in. Nobody else will probably hear it, but your musical memory suddenly finds a new route across its landscapes.

“Foot In The Jamb” by Via Vegrandis was one of those tracks. The chorus teased me from the get-go, and no matter how many times I listened on that initial day, the connection wasn’t happening. It constantly felt like it was on the tip of my tongue, but no matter how many times I tried to tease it out, it just wouldn’t come into focus. But walking home on an terribly windy Tuesday night a few weeks back I played through Via Vegrandis’ self-titled debut EP and when “Foot In The Jamb” appeared, it suddenly all made sense: The Delta Mirror. Nope? I don’t blame you. Although their debut album, Machines That Listen, is a cohesive conceptual piece, it largely went unnoticed upon its initial release. I enjoyed the record, though, and there’s a song on the album called “And The Radio Played On” that I now realise has a similarity to “Foot In The Jamb.” It’s not much – and I’m not accusing Via Vegrandis sole member Jared Bane of plagiarism – just a short bridge in the vocals and perhaps the way each of the vocalists carry their voice in their own musical worlds. Again, nobody else might have picked up on it, but it’s there every time I spin the song.

But what Via Vegrandis also has in common with Machines That Listen is that both have an undeniable streak of loneliness running through them. Whereas The Delta Mirror dealt with patients in hospital wards left alone and paralyzed by illness, Jared Bane is lonely from his lovelorn state. It’s nothing new, but what makes the EP a charming listen is that it is its own self-contained drama. Bane seems to have the joy of someone else in his life, but their being together seems to depend very much on his quaint social habits. “It’s a weird thing to lie about/ I’ll give you that,” he professes with just a hint of a smirk hiding his nervousness, like he’s trying to get someone to see why he would be so absurd in the first place. On earlier mentioned “Foot In The Jamb” he questions why “flying back and forth” doesn’t cause them to “[lose] interest in the long view,” like he can’t just enjoy what he has going in the moment.

Bookended by flickering drum machines, the opening and closing of the record are akin to fluorescent lights in a warehouse coming on, like Bane is putting light on memories he’s allowed to remain dormant for years. He considers them well, but his musky vocals occasionally get lost in the mix and it’s hard to get the full picture. His best line seems to shine, though, and they make sense across the EP if not entirely out of context. “Lying on the floor with your records underneath you” goes “Foot In The Jamb,” sounding like the description of an old polaroid photo before Bane ponders “God never closes a door without your foot in the jamb.” On “Another Statistical Quirk” he sounds like he’s trying reason with an ex during a break up (“It’s not the end of the world/ It’s just the end of the summer”) while also capturing that disillusioned sadness that hits most youngsters once they have to return to their version of the daily grind.

If Via Vegrandis isn’t a set of memories then it’s more than likely a prolonged dream sequence that goes from lonely daydreaming to falling asleep in front of the television (“Summer of Love”). The sound of the record certainly matches this description, drifting by with a light air that even manages to remain during its most concise and intent moment (the undeniably glossily produced highlight “Foot In The Jamb”). There are plenty of comparisons to The Radio Dept. to be thrown about (musically and lyrically; Bane seems to build upon Johan Duncanson’s nervous, coy nature) along with other acts on the Labrador label, but The Smiths might come to mind with the jangly guitar work on “Another Statistical Quirk” while “Summer of Love” might tease out a chillwave tag.

For the most part, though, Via Vegrandis exists in its own world. “Standing Still” is probably the best example of Bane sounding like he’s stuck in his bedroom, trying keep busy, but instead just letting time pass as he states that there’s no point talking until he knows what to say. If he’s not there, then he’s in that aforementioned dream world where he drifts even more obviously. There’s a moment not long after the two-minute mark on “Summer of Love” where it sounds like Bane could either be floating upwards or spiralling downwards; it’s hard to tell if what’s he’s been recounting has caused him anguish. Before long he awake to the television still talking away to no one in particular. Considering we can easily lose grip of dreams and some memories, it’s pleasing that Bane not only managed to get these ones down, but also managed – for the most part – to make them appealing to listen to.


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