REVIEWS | FEATURES | DEPARTMENTS | BOOMBOX | PODCAST | MISC
SEARCH:
splendid > reviews > 9/30/2005
The Vocokesh
The Vocokesh
Through the Smoke
Strange Attractors


Format Reviewed: CD

Soundclip: "Through the Smoke"

Buy me now
From the ordinary Midwestern streets of Milwaukee, home of Liberace, cheap beer and high carb, high fat diets, come mind-blowing space-rock jams and electric guitar freakouts. The Vocokesh, named after Blue Cheer producer Abe "Voco" Kesh, is the 15 year-old offshoot of Milwaukee experimentalists F/I. Headed by guitarist Richard Franecki, the group churns out spine-tingling psychedelic drones and smouldering guitar solos in a sound that melds Nurse with Wound with Hendrix, Throbbing Gristle with Pink Floyd.

The album begins with "Vibe #6"'s ominous, cinematic tones, all cymbal rolls and pulsing, half-buried bass and drums. John Helwig, Franecki's longtime collaborator, enters a minute into the track with a scorching guitar line that melts into shifting time signatures and molten waves of distortion. Temporarily disoriented, the song finds its rhythm again in a drum beat, guitar riffs darting, gongs ringing, synthetic keyboards pinging around the steady drum beat. Dark and foreboding and always in motion, it's movie music without the movie, the soundtrack for stories set against ruined urban landscapes. "The Vocokesh Theme Song", which follows, is jagged with buzzing feedback, built on a monumental riff that is melody and rhythm together, tinged with vibrating surf tones and electronic sounds. The long, mysterious title track, clocking in at over a quarter of an hour, layers bell-toned synth notes over a miasmic wash of shifting sound. Rattlesnake percussion weaves in and out of the mix, threatening and disappearing, as the bells turn gamelan foreign and multifaceted. All atmosphere and mood, the piece curls like its titular smoke, filling the space with vague, shifting images and ideas. Five minutes in, there's a slow, hard-slapped drumbeat upon which to hang less organic structures, and a circling, psychedelic guitar solo adds sinew and heft to the composition. The music ebbs and flows, quieter bits alternating with surges of guitar pyrotechnics and finally fading into its end.

Shorter and more tightly plotted, "New Cropcircle Boogie" is an album highlight, with its blistering bouts of feedback and water-drop-like tonal sound-blurts. The drums here, played by Hadley Kahn, are maniacally intense, pulsing and beating in waves under the searing double guitars, echoed by a bass that's barely audible in the mayhem. The disc closes with the tranquil, Eastern-toned meditations of "Sunday Afternoon", its massive drone punctuated by cymbal crashes and overlaid with electronic squelches and squalls.

Listening to The Vocokesh is a transforming experience; it takes you to a place where your mind is empty of rational thought but alive with colors and shapes. Like Kinski, Acid Mothers Temple and Circle, Franecki and his band break through consciousness with experimentally altered rock sounds, guitar solos from the psychedelic 1960s layered onto the trance-inducing bedrock of rhythmic repetition. The Vocokesh is a studio band -- it has never toured and never played live, yet its music has a communal quality, as if it's expressing some sort of tribal certainties through its sound. If the words "drone" or "psych" mean anything positive to you at all, you'll want to check this out.



REVIEWS:

12/31/2005:
Ladytron

Brian Cherney

Tomas Korber

UHF

The Rude Staircase

Dian Diaz

12/30/2005:
Helloween

PTI

The Crimes of Ambition

Karl Blau

Rosetta

Gary Noland

12/29/2005:
Tommy and The Terrors

Blacklisted

Bound Stems

Gary Noland

Carlo Actis Dato and Baldo Martinez

Quatuor Bozzoni

12/28/2005:
The Positions

Comet Gain

Breadfoot featuring Anna Phoebe

Secret Mommy

The Advantage

For a Decade of Sin: 11 Years of Bloodshot Records

12/27/2005:
The Slow Poisoner

Alan Sondheim & Ritual All 770

Davenport

Beaumont

Five Corners Jazz Quintet

Cameron McGill

Drunk With Joy

12/26/2005:
10 Ft. Ganja Plant

The Hospitals

Ross Beach

Big Star

The Goslings

Lair of the Minotaur

Koji Asano



Splendid looks great in Firefox. See for yourself.
Get Firefox!


FEATURES:
Grizzly Bear's Ed Droste probably didn't even know that he'd be the subject of Jennifer Kelly's final Splendid interview... but he is!



DEPARTMENTS:
That Damn List Thing
& - The World Beyond Your Stereo
Bookshelf
Pointless Questions
File Under
Pointless Questions
& - The World Beyond Your Stereo


ARCHIVE:
Read reviews from the last 30, 60, 90 or 120 days, or search our review archive.

It's back! Splendid's daily e-mail update will keep you up to date on our latest reviews and articles. Subscribe now!
Your e-mail address:    
REVIEWS | FEATURES | DEPARTMENTS | BOOMBOX | PODCAST | MISC
SEARCH:
All content ©1996 - 2011 Splendid WebMedia. Content may not be reproduced without the publisher's permission.