Vienna Noise Choir (VNC)
San Francisco, CA
No surprise that a band with noise in its name, releasing a CD called City/Port Liason, containing songs with names like “Pipe Song” and “Copper Rail” has a distinct industrial bend. What might be surprising, however, is how much other stuff VNC has going on – from plodding to lilting, from raw to intricate, from tinkling pianos to echoes of spaghetti western and surf guitar.
VNC’s 9-10 song, 43-46 minute CD is a revelation. City Port/Liason starts with the instrumental “Pipe Song,” a perfect example of VNC’s central strength: an ear for finding a hook amidst the ambient, industrial, drone and fuzzed-out noise. That continues with the second track “Fight Destroy Ambulance,” with another of the band’s signatures – distorted vocals that start well into the song.
The most vocally successful songs employ both male and female voices, David Barrett and presumably Maija Ollila. The distinctive female voice mixes with Barrett’s stylized vocal choices to fascinating end. “Copper Railway” sounds a bit like Low if someone in the band decided they’d had enough of slow core and added some driving rhythm more than three-fourths of the way through. The last track “Eventually” continues with that vibe, only with a more edgier tone. The two least successful are “Field of Dreams” and “AA ... Airport.” The former uses both voices, but in a much more straightforward noise rock vein, and the latter is more meandering experimental.
When discernable, VNC’s lyrics aren’t anything of note, but the feeling is one of using the human voice and words as just another musical tool to hammer or twist or melt down into something else entirely. Finally, it’d be easy for a band like VNC to take themselves too seriously, but VNC’s got a prankish quality. As it applies here, it’s better “heard” than explained, but here’s a hint: note the variations in the amount of songs and length of CD.