TL;DR: In this release, VvvV provides a dark distorted reflection of the current synthwave revival while displaying their skill within the wide range of electronic subgenres.
I got a chuckle when the label said they weren’t sure why they offered me an advance review copy of VvvV’s upcoming untitled release, but after giving it several listen-throughs, it makes a degree of sense. (So yeah, full disclosure – I got an advance review copy of this recording.)
To quote the blurb under “Clean” on Soundcloud:
Armed with Strings from Heaven, Organs from Hell and Oscillators from the deep and Beyond; VvvV are a 2 piece from Bordeaux, France. Their (typically) enigmatically untitled debut LP [will be] released November 19th by Detonic Recordings.
An Epic, Elegant and Brooding ColdWave/Synthpunk/Kraut tour de force:[sic] providing a sensory-enhanced immersion into their black chromed version of reality.
The first track I was exposed to was that Soundcloud release – check it out here:
The haunting vocals, simple but driving drum program, and atmospheric textures really spoke to me, hearkening back to the darkwave I fell in love with at the turn of the century but with a more modern feel. This is also the feel you’d get if you check out “Contracts” from VvvV’s 2014 release, The Beast:
While several of the tracks on the new keep that same kind of dark atmospheric texture, but there’s a lot more variation on this album than you’d expect from just those two samples. “Nation” is easily the noisiest track (and I mean that in the best possible way), coming within shouting distance of acts like Combichrist and God Module. “Like”, “Your Life”, and “The Beast” introduce a goth-like shimmery organ component. And the last two tracks – “Alive” and “Light” – shift into the territory occupied by the softer parts of VNV Nation’s repertoire.
But really, this 2016 album hearkens even further back – and explains the #NewWave tag on the SoundCloud file for “Clean”. About half of the album is a solid kind of alt-synthwave, reminiscent of what it might have been like if we ran into a dark timeline version of Devo and influenced by all the music that came after them.
This is really my only nitpick; while “Clean” is a very good track indeed, it’s not what I would choose as the most representative track from the release.
Overall, the album showcases the group’s range and ability to slide between this range of subgenres while still maintaining a recognizable and distinct sound – not an easy feat. While you’ll almost certainly favor some of the tracks in your “favorite” subgenre, the whole release is a solid release.
You can pre-order the album (“LP” or “Untitled”, depending on which you prefer) over on Bandcamp at https://detonicrecordings.bandcamp.com/album/vvvv-lp