Having recently been athirst for odd metal and quasi-prog bands, I've run across Ayreon, Between the Buried and Me, 31 Knots, Rairbirds, and a buncha stimulating ensembles breaking barriers and expanding sub-phyla. What had set me in the mood was the lingering effects of Sipo's dynamite Year of the White Rose (here). Now comes Stellar Vector, in from a completely different direction but as polished and striking as any of the strange ranges lately being traversed by sundry experimenteers.
These guys specialize in quirky rhythms and off-kilter harmonies that succeed bafflingly well. Often expecting melodic dissonances that shake themselves out of control, one instead finds groove structures falling together with poetically odd finesse. Pop elements remind the listener of Klaatu working with Jules Shear or maybe old Kayak by way of R.J. Stips, but the atmospheres are distinctly of a 70s Euro-oriented ambience retranslated into American nuances. Lots of echoing refrains, sound washes, off-balance build-ups resolving perfectly amid grandeur and starry-faced wonder. Prog, without a doubt, but not garden variety by any means.
No matter where you think Stellar Vector might be going in any one song, they always change up and head in another direction without damaging the timbre and environment in the least. Split Enz's 1st LP was kinda like this (so they disappointed many when heading where they did), and Phil Manzanera writes a lot of such gratifyingly singular work when taking up solo slabs away from Roxy, or even the 801 materials. In many ways, this is a synthesis and apotheosis of what Dao Son For, Flight Commander, Martian Lamps, Granfalloon, and some of John Orsi's pop/prog/alt work have historically produced, and there's never enough of that to go around. February 14th might be the best indication of just what a head of steam the Vector can work up while keeping everything in perfect order, crafting structures that never fulfill anticipation but instead redirect it to new modes of thought and gratification.
And it's fun.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2010, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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