One Last Time Around the Equator
Two progressive rocking musical explorers in one month? This reviewer feels particularly lucky with October's musical gifts... Onto the review.
Local rockers from Long Beach, The Vespertines, produced their much anticipated full length debut LP this month. One Last Time Around the Equator finds the band in razor sharp form, exploring the avenues of jazz and crisply visceral progressive rock. Here we finally get a taste of the creative talent that was revealed for those who have seen the band tighten, progress, and mature.
One Last Time Around the Equator opens with the unexpected heavy distorted fuzz of Kyle Cavaness's bass. "Trigger" kicks things off with blistering pace. Guitarist Alex Kater tears through the sonic channels with jagged riffs that flutter in and out of the layered booming patterns of drummer Chris Walker.
Vanessa Acosta's sultry and expansive vocals bring each song to a soulful center amid the complex and controlled chaos of the music. The three instruments weave in and around her shifting tone like a sped up masquerade ball dance.
"Miasma" and "New Brain" show the band changing pace in perfect harmony, allowing Acosta to shine and belt out heartfelt verses of pure passion. The rest of the band waits its turn and then explodes in a combination of energy and harmonized jazz fusion. Kater shines on his solos but never strays too far from the rest of the dancers, showing his ability to creep his way back to the beginning of the groove. And that the other musicians recognize the homogeny of melding melodies is proof of some of that fulfilled potential this band has shown.
While we are at it, kudos to the production and recording team for One Last Time Around the Equator. The instruments and voice all weigh in at equal value with Acosta's voice fading from powerful dominant belting to soft whispers while she never seems too far in front or behind the instruments, allowing the others to continue their constant expansive grooving.
Timely trumpet playing by Acosta has also become a staple point of their sound; "Stutterstep" shows the band at its free flowing jazzy best. The hypnotic drum breakdown that carries through to the close of the album syncs perfectly with Acosta grooving along on her trumpet.
"Disfaction" changes the pace and calms the melody down to a slithering crawl. Acosta softly croons over a jaggedly echoing riff by Kater. The band comes together in the breakdown and chorus with a riffing frenzy before creeping back full circle back to the hypnotically infectious riffs of the verses.
Each musical breakdown and instrumental section is treated like its own creative sandbox. Kater and Walker play tag across the musical landscape with Cavanesse's bass pounding through with a particularly noticeable edge to it.
"Holodynes" serves as the brakes of the album for its moment. A creeping bass line aligned with an acoustic riff by Kater sets the tone for Acosta's soft yet powerful serenade. This haunting number is a refreshing change of pace to the blustery mix of jazzy explosions the rest of the album provides. A faint chilling trumpet solo closes out this song in a most fitting way, fading from the brain and nudging the listener from its hypnotic slumber.
"Prime Meridian" provides a heavy dose of distorted riffs with brilliant drum fills by Walker particularly standing out to this reviewer. Acosta again provides the soulful center while the creative chaos takes shape. Wah wah'ed exploding chords help create a structure to allow Acosta to belt with a give and take flow through pre-breakdowns, breakdowns, and back to the beginning riffs again.
Seeing this band live a few times and listening with earnest to their previously released EP, Gravity Optional, one can easily sense of the talent within this creative foursome. The complex rhythms and maturity on this album has exceeded any expectations I may have had. The future of this band, to me, seems artistically very bright. This album encompasses everything that is good about progressive rock and jazz combined, from harmonies to riffs. On top of that, add a dash of layered and complex drumming to Acosta's passionate, hypnotizing voice and you have a recipe that yields the essence of what is enjoyable about music.
It has been a great privilege to see a band in its earlier stages sound this good and have the ability to capitalize on what is a very "cool" and unique sound. One Last Time Around the Equator will hopefully allow them to ascend to greater heights; modern music needs bands like this. Do yourself a favor and check this band out - chances are you will be captured under the their glorious spell.
Must Listens: The whole album, but if you must: Stutterstep, Holodynes, Disfaction
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Reviewer Bio - Tim Rosini is part of the editorial team at Onlinerock team. Having a background in English literature with a concentration in creative writing, Tim found himself working for various magazines and websites after moving out to the west coast last summer. Having the ability to adapt his focus from business writing to creative fiction he has found a great place to exercise his passion for music on the onlinerock website.