Monday, March 15, 2010

Vacuum Tree Head - Thirteen! Album Review

I have no idea how many people actually have heard of these guys before, how popular they are, etc. but they remain one of the most creative and strange bands to exist. Their newest album, THIRTEEN!, is by far some the best material I've heard by them. This is also one of the best productions I've ever heard on an album, PERIOD (you might disagree with me, but my speakers have never spewed better sounding clarity before this). These songs sound more stuctured than some of their other albums, such as Excel (Eye Eye), or The Oob Eye Works, and is definitely the shortest output, clocking in at about 20 minutes. But what a release!!

Explaining this band to someone new is almost impossible. The songs can't really be described in words, unless you describe each individual song in its own giant paragraph. They mash together orchestral and arabian themes, some flamenco and electronica thrown in, and while previous efforts were somewhat loosely written, probably to allow for a good deal of improvisation, these songs are a lot more tight-knit. You can hear a number of other influences, ranging from Frank Zappa and Sun Ra to King Crimson and Led Zeppelin. Even throw in a few early hardcore punk bands, such as Black Flag and Husker Du. They mash together such a wide range of musical sounds and turn it all into something completely their own, making the entire concept behind the band completely genius.

This album was recorded between 2002 and 2009, (ironic enough, this being as short as it is) with 15 songs ranging from 24 seconds to just under 3 minutes. Along for the ride are musicians from a load of other avante-garde groups such as Moe Staiano (from Sleepytime Gorilla Museum) Rich Corny and Justin Markovits (from Interstellar Grains), and Keith Abrams (from Time of Orchids), among a lot of other great musicians. Not to mention the VTH crew, featuring the band's brainchild Jason Berry on woodwinds, synthesizers, percussion, and more, vocalists Sylvia Gordon and Lucy Foley, and Charles Lloyd and Michael de la Cuestra on sitar, guitars, and more. This is not an album to be missed by anyone with a sweet tooth for the abnormal, the other-worldly, or just the plain curious.

This album has just come out, so I don't feel right just putting up the entire album for a free download, but here is one great track off of the album for you to sample. Support these guys and everything that they do! They're amazing!

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