Andy Vaz: Sound_Variation 9-9
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Background Records head Andy Vaz extends the genre-crossing, shape-shifting experimentalism of his full-length Repetitive Moments Last Forever to the ninth chapter in his Sound_Varation series. The concept may be the same as beforeórecycling a pool of sounds using tone shifting, re-arranging, and other effectsóbut the explorative results are considerably more abstract in character than the description might suggest.

The two tracks are eight to ten minutes in length, allowing Vaz ample opportunity to range beyond any one style. A bubbly funk pulse anchors side one, with the groove gravitating slowly towards house territory as aqueous chords alternate and ascend in call-and-response manner, textures accumulate, and tension subtly builds. The shuffling, slightly jacking rhythm flows but then momentarily stops, and instruments swim in and out of the mix, like a nimble-footed bass line that briefly appears and then vanishes, only to resurface moments later.

A considerably darker ambiance pervades side two, with Vaz creating a lulling drone from those same alternating chords and underscoring them with a lurching, even funereal groove. But as the piece unfolds, the chords come to seem more and more like tolling death tones, and soon three-note synth motifs emerge, softly pointing heavenward. Rather than expiring, the piece turns livelier in its second half, with the mood brightening and the rhythm becoming more robust. It's a strikingly lugubrious exercise that departs dramatically from the jubilant mood typical of much dance music. Those wondering whether there are any new directions left to be explored in Vaz's Sound_Varation project need only be directed to number nine's thoroughly unusual material.

August 2006