The Vss - Nervous Circuits
You can color me ignorant once again, dear readers. The VSS seem to have a cult following, still to this day, and it's all based on this one album, Nervous Circuits. They seem to be considered precursors to the modern habit of indie rock bands mixing in sythns and other electronic noise to full effect. While the album reflects that, what's really refreshing (still, a decade later on a re-release by the awesome folk at Hydrahead) is the fact that, at the core, the band sounds like a hardcore punk outfit who've dared attempt to add a damn near pop-influenced layer of synths and hooks on top. The mix is kept honest, and the songs are all, at the very least, catching to the ear. But the novelty wears thin for this listener.
"Death Scene", as an opener, will lead you to believe you're just hearing another halfway-decent hardcore punk outfit, only laced with a few moments of spotted synth blips. But the next track, "In Minature", introduces just what The VSS were about. The one-two punch of angular guitars and a high-pitched electro-wail create a disharmony that's suddently jolted out of place by a sizzling hook, only to revert back to the original theme. And the songs continue on much in this fashion, using repeating passages overdubbed with electronic effects and sudden switch-ups in rhythm/lead guitars that creates the imagery of goth robots dancing at a similarly themed club. Honestly, to my unfamiliar ears, The VSS sounds like what Bauhaus might have been if they rose to fame in the 90's...and were originally a hardcore punk band.
So while the originally of the disc strikes me (there may be stuff like this out there, that appeared before Nervous Circuits, but to me this is pretty unique sounding stuff), the actual writing never keeps up with the interesting avenue the band opens up. To be sure the album is full of fascinating bits, but as a whole I think Nervous Circuits never really stretches beyond a novelty record, and I cannot really find a place for it in my collection. It just doesn't touch on anything but that rare to adhere to "originality" factor, and on those merits alone it's score rises half a point.
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