A few months back I was caught in a feverish state of praise for Kayo Dot, synchronized with the release of their latest record – Gamma Knife. I was mentioning their novel approach to extreme metal, their ability to transcend the formulas and bore down to a layer of unprecedented darkness and freshness. I have made it a habit to follow Toby Driver’s musical exploits ever since I first discovered Kayo Dot, and this has definitely payed off with my introduction to his new musical project – Vaura.
It’s proving really hard for me to dig up information on Vaura, keeping well in line with what I know of Toby Driver’s passion for creating puzzles for listeners to track down and decode. For example, their Facebook page only has the cryptic word “Æpochalypticism” in it, along with links to their other online outlets, which don’t help with the deciphering of their history very much either. It is, however, interesting to see that Toby Driver plays bass in this outfit, which is an unexpected shift of accent for him, at least for me. But the lack of trivia will just make it easier for me to focus on the music, and something tells me that’s the intent of the eerie factual silence surrounding them anyway.
This is the band’s debut album, adorned with one of the most enticing names I’ve ever heard, quite appropriate for the music and the self-reflective, razor sharp, intellectual way they approach metal. This is generous music, of wide breadth and spirit, blending echoes from a great many areas, from gothic rock to post-metal, from noise experimentation to black metal, from drone driven delirium to exquisite, vibrating sonic edifices of intimidating mass and height. The overall tone is very dark, pulsating with a cold, relentless, voracious aggression, but just as the name of the album suggests, there’s a form of uneasy, nigh-impossible balance being maintained within the music, a baffling, very hard to place source of light shining through all the gloom, made all the more resplendent by the contrast.
The visual reference of the album title reveals itself completely in the music – in opposite sides of the sky, at dusk, the sun falling and the eclipsed moon, both paradoxically visible through the illusion weaved by the very air we breathe – so bathed in the maddening rush of light from source to reflection, does the listener feel submerged in the musical onslaught of this record, trapped in sound, briefly, like light bending around the globe, pulverized through the shimmering barrier between the habitat and the uninhabitable. And with the same grace as the referenced astronomical phenomenon, the album manages to transcend the tempting impulses for harshness and jarring shifts between dark and light, and manages to maintain that breathtaking, mind bending hybridization of the two from start to finish.
As all music to which Toby Driver contributes in any way, this offering takes patience, it’s a true adventure, able to push the limits of one’s comfort zone in all the right ways and open the listener up not only to new music, but to new hearing! Give it a thorough listen if you’re feeling experimental. Enjoy!