VEiiLA: The Nation Of One
CD | DL
VEiilA’s new album combines synthwave, dark left field house and downtempo sounds with a remarkable vocal performance. The result is high on emotion and passion, while still moving your feet.
There’s a lot of electronica about and much of it is high on artifice and technique but sometimes low on personality or heart. That can’t be said of The Nation Of One, new album from electronic duo VEiiLA from Saint-Petersburg. The band describes the work as “a set of snapshots…of my feelings and emotions at a certain period of my life. It’s a documented log of my losing hope, losing trust to or in people, descending into shadows of despair.”
Be in no doubt this is complex and highly arresting music. The album combines dark, leftfield elements with an almost synthwave pop sensibility to stunning effect. Driving the whole work forward is the remarkable voice which soars, pleads and chants in equal measures and with hypnotic intensity. Their sound draws together contemporary electronic soundscapes with the tight band-driven sound of pioneers from the Cocteau Twins to Depeche Mode. There are contemporary echoes here of Jane Weaver and Pumarosa.
The light and dark tones play on a scale from melancholy to depression and glorious redemption as the album unfolds. After the lower-key opener, Trust pulls you in with a striking, confessional vocal underpinned by growling synths, interweaved with a chattering staccato piano. The very impressive Shadows moves effortlessly from an almost psychedelic opening to a full-on prog house workout awash with reverb and incantation.
Across the album contrasts of mood, style and feeling play out impressively. Reflections combines syncopated off-kilter rhythms with a muted, haunting vocal. At the other end of the scale Voice shows off VEiiLA’s versatility in a more conventional pop song complete with choppy guitar.
It all comes together on Exorcism. Wrought, emotional vocals give way to an almost dub breakdown and gothic techno crescendo. Finally, Farewell offers some redemption and hope in the plea, “Come with me, I won’t let go”. A remarkable journey and a very impressive record.
All words by Mark Allin. This is Mark’s first review for Louder Than War.