Category: Electro / Synthpop
Blurb: While doing little to stray from the path set forth by previous albums, VNV Nation continues its pursuit of melodic electronic humanity.
Never a band to allow its destiny to be dictated by the demands of a particular scene, VNV Nation continues to march to its own beat. While many yearn for the days of old when the band’s trance-meets-EBM futurepop style seemed to herald a brave new musical world, Ronan Harris has been on a steady and unwavering trajectory that over the last several albums has seen him incorporate even more melodic and poppier modes. Topped off by a sense of visual artistry reminiscent of the futurist architecture and constructivism of the ‘30s and ‘40s, VNV Nation has effectively taken its humanist themes into a singular alternative electro-pop style that is very much its own, as is heard on the band’s latest album, Transnational.
As the pulsing electronic drone of “Generator” slowly begins the album with a quiet and pensive chord progression that builds to a rhythmic crescendo of bouncy beats and strings, Transnational begins in true VNV fashion with Harris’ melodic croon entering on “Everything” to make for an appropriately uplifting and epic introduction. From here, the album shifts gears toward a slightly more abrasive edge reminiscent of VNV’s more aggressive days as “Primary” and especially “Retaliate” introduce grittier and more distorted synth tones to augment an atmosphere of dark urgency, with Harris’ voice given a scathing treatment of effects on the latter track. Similarly, the instrumental track “Aeroscope” brings in some virulent analog synthesizer manipulations atop a strident but simple dance beat, easily ranking alongside such classic VNV tracks as “Electronaut” or “Ascension.” While these tracks may not match the caustic and unpolished charm of the earlier days, they at least demonstrate that Harris’ has not given up on projecting harder sounds and emotions in his music even amid his more saccharine and poppy inclinations. Indeed, those are presented in as much abundance with tracks like “If I Was” coming across with a lovely ambience akin to that of a song like “Weltfunk” from the Futureperfect era, and tracks like “Lost Horizon” with its anthemic, almost heroic theme and the ambient solemnity of the two parts of “Teleconnect” showcase VNV Nation’s continuing hope for humanity to strive for the more optimistic and productive future we should be capable of attaining.
Transnational may not offer much more than Automatic did in its pursuit of melodic electronic humanity, and therein lies the album’s most glaring flaw: its strict conformity to the aesthetics of sound and style that VNV Nation laid out for itself long ago, with nary an indication of any risks taken or new ideas considered or explored. However, this is arguably a strength on the band’s part as well; Ronan Harris knows exactly what he’s doing and he actually does it quite well, leaving behind those fans still trapped in the desire for past glories to be revisited while continuing to attract new audiences unfettered by purist notions. For this clarity of artistic vision and unwillingness to deviate from it despite the expectations of some, VNV Nation still deserves much credit.
VNV Nation Website http://vnvnation.com
VNV Nation MySpace http://www.myspace.com/vnvnation
VNV Nation Facebook https://www.facebook.com/VNVNation
VNV Nation Twitter http://twitter.com/vnv_nation
VNV Nation ReverbNation http://www.reverbnation.com/vnvnation
VNV Nation SoundCloud http://soundcloud.com/vnvnation
Anachron Sounds Website http://www.anachronsounds.de
Storming the Base CD
Storming the Base Vinyl
Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)