/trost; 2003/




more info:

I had almost forgotten what it feels like to discover a great band during a live performance. It sounds like I’m boasting but I’m really used to know groups before going to their gigs, all the more that it has become convenient to download one or two songs of a band to know what to expect. I call it internet side-effects: you can have everything, eventually you become blasé, idly snob. ‘When you have access to everything, you lose your sense of value’ a friend of mine approximately said once. I’m afraid that this is true. Our relation to music is beginning to change. Mine at least since many people do not have such scruples downloading songs all day long and no longer buying discs. For once, I didn’t have time to download one or two songs so I went to this gig the old-fashioned way, for another band, and in my eyes, this impressive trio named Valina stole the show.

Valina comes from Linz, Austria and Vagabond is their second album. It was recorded by Steve Albini but the sharp, rough sound he usually endows emo bands with is surprisingly subdued here. Some people compare them to Shellac but I’d rather compare Valina to early Karate or to unfortunately split-up Faraquet because their emo math rock is embellished with indie-pop melodies.

Vagabond is a bit disappointing at first because the energy is not as developed as it is on stage but it really deserves to be listened several times to be appreciated at its true value. This album is endowed with something else than what usually characterizes math-rock band: energy and complex structures. Valina unfurls its math rock songs trimming it with catchy melodies (especially in the choruses: ‘Dance Your Job’, ‘St-Petersburg Me Cannibal’). Indeed, you surprise yourself humming some of the vocal melodies, which is fairly rare for a math rock band and therefore deserves to be pointed out. The bass does not just convey rhythmic strength and backs up an inventive drummer but regularly acts as a second guitar, intertwining melodies (‘Comes the horsehead thinker’ beginning, ‘Air Edna’, ‘St-petersburg me cannibal’ verses). The guitar lines are sometimes truly impressive (‘Dance Your Job’). Valina is not the usual math rock band, these young men seem to let their feeling wander and do not restrain themselves. The musical range goes from power pop (‘Ship the escape’) to free jazz (‘The Akrobat 36’), however Vagabond does not sound heterogenous. When the last note has given way to silence, the melodies disseminated here and there in-between complex structures resonates in your head ‘on the way back home to Piskajova…’.

Finally, let’s make a round review and praise the band once more: I totally approve of their little clear-headed speech about downloading songs on the net:

‘Concerns regarding unauthorized lending, copying or such things won’t really bother a band out of the harbour. Make a tape-copy to your boyfriend but think of the fact that listening to the vinyl version of a record brings more pleasure in one’s life than some crappy mp3s via email.” Indeed.


/mar 15th 2003/