VLY – I / (Time)

VLY - I / (Time)

VLY – I / (Time)

I / (Time) is the debut album by a diverse collective spread across the Atlantic Ocean. I hear spacious arrangements; I hear solid musicianship; I hear off-kilter chord progressions; but mostly I hear a band for which I am obviously not the audience.

The members of VLY have long, anonymous résumés and also belong to outfits that include the likes of Diet Kong, Typical Reptiles, Karl Demata Band, Il Tempio Delle Clessidre, Bernie Torme’, Shark Island, White Willow, and Necromonkey. So what’s one more?

VLY play melodic, dream-like, spaced-out, progressive rock. Here is the backstory from New York-based singer Keith Gladysz: “The music and collaborative art I’ve made always started with people I knew, and creating naturally came out of that understanding. That’s not the case with VLY. We managed to make an album without ever meeting. There was no gauge or reference point except for the music. It was a total shot in the dark.” So that explains it.

The VLY sound roughly recalls new Floydian stand-ins. The diverse, detached backgrounds of the band members render the music placeless. I / (Time) sounds progressively European, psychedelic, and spoiled with faded hues of North American classic rock, blues, and jazz. If there is a balance of these sounds and influences, I have not heard it yet on I / (Time), even after three weeks of listening to it. The physical space between the musicians seems minuscule compared to the space each musician created around himself while recording his contribution. Every instrument, though competently played, rarely does more than dabble.

Two songs stand out: “Circles,” track one, and “Headache,” track four. “Circles,” as with most VLY songs on this album, begins with extreme hesitancy. But at 2:00, a bridge gives us a hook followed by layered vocals that lend the song an emotional center. And when this passage leads back into the chorus, the song sounds energized. “Headache” is interesting because it builds; by the 3:00 mark, you realize that this song has gotten loud. The turbulent swirl of guitar is offset nicely by the piano. These two tracks approach the best moments of new Floydian rock.

I / (Time) is the fruit of an internet-enabled, international recording session, but the sound’s placelessness did not allow it to become familiar to me.

Lasers Edge