Single review – Aphasia by Vundabar (2021)(Gawk Records)
A year after the propulsive brilliance of their Either Lightalbum, Boston trio, Vundabar, are back with a two track single that coincides with the announcement of some of those gigs/tour date things (remember them?…well they are back on the horizon for places other than Australasia these days)!!!
Essentially the tracks on this single are uncluttered by the absolute dynamism that the majority of the previous album gave us. However, perhaps they do hint at the more laconic, melodic melancholy, that its outliers such as Jester and Wax Face hinted at.
Best described as somewhere equidistant between the jangle-pop laden gaze of Swiss Portrait and the beauty of a late 80s dream-pop sound that seems to have be re-engineered and restructured via a different formula, a-side, Aphasia, stutters through dulcet riffs and hazy, distant vocals to create an atmosphere of pervading confusion, anxiety and strange foreboding. These might not be the common descriptors of beauty, but then this has a truly original sense of stunning to it.
Whilst I am not one to really take too much notice of the various promo blurbs I get sent, the background to this track explains the stroke and subsequent aphasia suffered by Brandon Hagen’s father during quarantine and gives context to the overwhelming sense, of almost claustophobic sadness, that is omnipresent.
The atmosphere does not really change in b-side, Ringing Bell. However, there feels so much less emotional control as the music yelps with spiky, post-punk faux melodies, that are consistently punctuated and truncated by the interplay with Josek K style, guitar angularities. This is not a sound I have encountered from Vundabar previously, but somehow, such agitation could not compliment the atmosphere of it’s partner more.
It is hard to really decipher whether this is genuinely Vundabar going ‘musically elsewhere’, or whether it is just their non-intentional, unassumed response to the personal lockdown travails that Hagen experienced. Either way it has a consuming, slightly disturbing and ultimately beguiling beauty that reveals yet another facet to their obvious brilliance.