Canadian band The Vaya Project is one of those presences which seem to remain a secret when so many less able and imaginative bands find a spotlight to shine on their work. This is not that the electro/industrial/ experimental project has lacked success but it is fair to say that wider picture of awareness has so far eluded it. New album Happybleak is a tantalising and enthralling expanse of gripping attention grabbing compositions which leave imagination and passions alight, and satisfaction so full it might just be the spark to change that secrecy.
The Vaya Project is the solo project of London, Canada musician/producer Jeremy Chaulk, who has equally set standards with his electronic project Kilurx, TVP RMX, as part of industrial dark metallers Project Juggernaut and plenty more. The band has arguably been the vehicle for Chaulk’s most experimental explorations and Happybleak is no exception, the album a striking mix of fiery sounds and electronic investigation though probably the most accessible release from the project yet. Consisting of four brand new songs, a quartet of tracks from the never released Dead Iris EP, and a set of four taken from the Ink Sonata sessions (Ink Sonata the recently released Project Juggernaut album), the new release is the perfect doorway into the music and invention of Chaulk and The Vaya Project at its most potent yet.
With most of the tracks predominantly instrumental, Happybleak provides evocative scenarios for the imagination to tease and be teased by, thoughts exploring their own visions with the pieces of music adding the spark and spice to each eclectic landscape. FTN opens things up, heavy pulsing beats resonating in the ear within an almost schizophrenic sonic causticity. As a contagious electro allurement adds its scorching presence to the mix, the track evolves in to a feisty, bordering on violent instigator for the dancefloor. With rhythmic bait not even the dead could resist, the track is a scintillating apocalyptic kissed, industrial seeded slice of voracious inventiveness and the ideal entrance into project and release.
The following Methuselah brings an instant sinister and darker edged presence which is at odds with but compliments the previous devilry. Within the danger and intimidation lined walls of the track, scantily dressed melodies converge on its core, their leading spark a breath of warmth moving the piece into a mystically embraced and mystique soaked elegance which enchants and mesmerises the senses. Its emerging beauty is swallowed and given another fusion of temptation through Beautiful Agony which features Elle Hermansen (Ellemusic). One of two tracks with vocals, it is a wonderful slice of electro pop, the seductive vocals of Ontario singer songwriter Hermansen (who also adds tones to FTN) sirenesque within the embrace of equally fetching and fascinating melodies.
The thumping pulse of ReSex grips attention next, its metronomic lure an irresistible grip which enslaves attention whilst synths breed their own form of galvanic enticement. Like its predecessor the track is more electro pop than any other flavour, though also spiced with an irrepressible toxicity which appeals to all forms of electronic endeavour. Its successor Chasm is the other end of the spectrum, a darker predatory scourge of sonic pestilence achieving the same effect, total absorption of the imagination and emotions. A raw and unpolished breath frequents the walls of the composition, its touch harsh and stark but within this chilled environment a defiant funk lilted seed flourishes and thrills.
That ingenious blending of opposites is a frequent success in tracks, the likes of Luna Muerta and Jazmine, though with less open contesting aspects also merging differences for one provocative and richly satisfying encounter. Both tracks venture through undiscovered yet seemingly familiar landscapes, the first finding essences of Yello and Dalek I Love You within its coarser climes whilst the second of the two is a slow cascading of crystalline and glassy melodic and sonic light upon an expanding discord washed, noir clad mystery, and quite mesmeric.
Three of the next four songs are ones familiar to followers of Chaulk but in their reworked guises have never sounded better. Both the intrigue spawned mysterious Cactuz, a track destined to soundtrack the darkest spy movie, and the disturbing psychotic Pixel Army have found a clarity and potency which finds them at their most formidable and compelling whilst the insatiable rhythmic and energised appetite of Parasite leads the feet and emotions into another breath-stealing dancefloor stomp. Within the trio Fukakanuk provides its own inciting and charismatic tempting for body and imagination, its sturdy almost bludgeoning beats the skeleton for a sonic scarring and rapaciousness to hang from, as well as an impossibly infectious slavery which emerges as the track expands its diablerie.
The album is closed off by Dead Iris which features Roseblack. The song is another stylish and well-crafted song but for personal tastes does not match the dramatic quality and adventure found elsewhere upon Happybleak. The album is a fascinating journey for imagination and emotions, a thrilling bold collection of creative exploration which deserves to find the widest attention.
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