It's an oft-used phrase amongst those with a more fatalist perspective on their lives that "everything happens for a reason". Without getting intertwined in the philosophical merits and flaws with such a mindset (personally, I don't believe in any vague concept of fatalism), if guitarist Karl Demata hadn't parted company with Crippled Black Phoenix last year then would we have the sublime fruits of this musically majestic new collective, Vly? Maybe as a side project? Maybe not. Either way, now free of his previous band, he's been able to channel all of his creativity into this new venture and it's simply magnificent on so many different levels. I had the pleasure of hearing some rough mixes of a few tracks towards the end of last year and was immediately impressed by the ease with which the music's organic essence attained not only absorbing emotional depths, but a natural fluidity to the subtly complex layers in each of the instrumentations. Now, the final product is upon us, courtesy of prestigious stateside prog label The Laser's Edge, and the album, as a whole, exceeds my high expectations from those rough mixes. It's a flawlessly crafted masterpiece that embraces music as a medium for capturing and conveying pure, artistic beauty in the most captivating and inspiring ways.
Considering the nature of how this music came to be, it's even more impressive that the results shine with as much intrigue and cohesive allure as they do. Vly's constituted by a multi-national lineup that entailed the UK-based Karl exchanging ideas across the internet with musicians in Sweden, Italy and America. Joining the mainman in his new venture are New York singer Keith Gladysz from Diet Kong and Typical Reptiles; Italian keyboardist Elisa Montaldo of Il Tempio Delle Clessidre; ex-Änglagård, current White Willow and Necromonkey member Mattias Olsson from Sweden on drums and additional keyboards; and bassist Chris Heilmann, who also parted company with Crippled Black Phoenix last year. And this eclectic collective have excelled in their combined efforts, bringing their own musically innovative sways into play, with some players glorifying prog's original heyday of the 70s in their sonics, and others approaching their performances and parts with a more innovative, forward-thinking dynamic. The outcome is a rather original fusion that succeeds in blending older, generic prog idioms with both contemporary and innovatory modes of expression, across a range of spellbinding instrumentations. Classic rock, prog, folk, psychedelic, and ambient music, with an occasional infusion of electronica all feature in Vly's stylistic arsenal, although without the focus on a single genre element. In fact, the music on 'I/(Time)' transcends genre, and its predominantly laidback vibe, combined with the dream-like soundscapes, makes for a fully absorbing listen; one of escapism, if you will. This is music to get lost in and forget your woes.
Each and every instrument has its own purpose in the overall compositions which are, in essence, richly textured pieces of emotional inherence - in other words, where the affections of the music feel like they're naturally sourced, rather than forced. The players evidently had a profound emotional connection to the songs. And, on the compositional side, melodies also contribute to that organic quality of the music; there's enough breathing space within each piece for melodies to develop and flourish in their own time, often with exhilaratingly epic explosions of emotion, particularly when songs build towards dramatic crescendos. Vocally, the album also shines through Keith's performance. He has one of those instantly likeable, easily accessible voices that manages to convey so much emotion without it actually sounding like he's making too much effort to do so. He fits (and adds to) the natural, organic essence of the music itself. Think Lou Reed's earthy tones infused with the emotional fragility heard in Daniel Gildenlöw's more vocally introspective moments and that'll give you a very vague idea. Of course, he sounds like neither, but conveys a similar vibe.
In short, these five musicians belong together and the evidence is here to be heard. You'll not hear a more sublimely moving and affectively absorbing album all year. Karl's continued his musical journey and begun his post-CBP career in very good company. 'I/(Time)' is a phenomenal debut record from a mightily talented new collective.
The Laser's Edge
Review by Mark Holmes
25th Sept 2015
3) Time Elapsed
5) Out of the Maze
7) Time Remembered
8) Silver Beaches
9) Message in Water
10) Dark Days
11) Perfect Place; 12) Time Forgotten
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"...a flawlessly crafted masterpiece that embraces music as a medium for capturing and conveying pure, artistic beauty in the most captivating and inspiring ways."