When, Vishal J Singh announced on his Facebook page that Amogh Symphony ( now definitively defined as a band with 3 musicians - Vishal, Jim Richman on drums and percussion and Andrey Sazonov on guitar and other instruments), I couldn't help but be excited. Because, The Quantum Hack Code (2010) was one of my most favorite releases of all time. I put it in the same pantheon as the other prog albums that I love dearly - Lateralus (Tool), Scenes From A Memory ( Dream Theater), Deadwing and Fear of a Blank Planet ( Porcupine Tree), Obzen (Meshuggah), Blackwater Park (Opeth). TQHC was that good. And it got me through some tough times. For that I cannot love it enough.
So, when Vectorscan was announced and released, I wet and soiled my knickers in anticipation. And it arrived in mail yesterday. As happy as a kid in a candy store, I ripped the envelope open, ignored the shoddy packaging, extracted the CD and popped it into my laptop. Hit play.
I finished the first listen in confusion. I did not get it. That obviously has to be a mistake - maybe it was all the adrenaline of getting the new album that did not subside for the 53 minute duration of the album. And hence a second listen, which confirmed my first impressions. The album sounds like a hot discordant mess of random sound samples lying around on some one's computer. Through the entirety of the LP, I could not figure out if there was any cohesion. The musicians are insanely talented - of that, there is no doubt. Track 9 - dubiously and obnoxiously titled "Tongue of Fire, Burning Wings, Torment Dormant, Breaking Black Rings" - displays their chops. But not much else.
That was the other thing that just rubbed me the wrong way - the titles on most of these songs sound like temporary session titles - Track 5 - We Are Here, They are there. Sector of Nectar, Feeding Vector is a classic case in point. But the track itself is such a strange and convoluted mirage of sounds, it is easy to forgive the title. And the same goes for most songs - can I even call them songs? One of the hallmarks of TQHC and Abolishing the Obsolete System before that, was that Vishal had managed to use the tools at his disposal to create interesting and envelope pushing instrumental songs - a trait that is all but lost in this album. There are no songs. As I mentioned before, it sounds like a perfect mathematical sum of sound bytes lying on someone's hard drive, concatenated end to end to create something. Something that I am finding impossible to like.
Is this what they call avant garde music? If it is, I can definitively say that this is not for me. I still prefer cohesion to be one of the trademarks of a track. I can definitely understand the urge of an artist to create what he/she/they think is a perfect embodiment of their skill and emotion. But as a listener, I cannot forgive this album - the eccentricities have trampled mercilessly and rapidly, all over the hallmarks that made the prior Amogh Symphony albums great.
My favorite track on the record - or the saving grace, I want to say is Track 2 : Junaki, Osinaki.Dhumuha, Saki. It does flow seamlessly, even with the idiosyncrasies thrown in, it does not put me off. Also the production on the album is top notch. Can't fault that.
I wished it was my absolute lack of musical knowledge - technical and aesthetic - that makes me not like this album. I wished it was the diabolical weather from yesterday, that ruined my mood. I wish that I was not sitting in my living room, on a perfect Sunday afternoon, slightly angry and irritated and on the verge of tears because one of my favorite bands of all time had let me down big time. I wish I could recommend this album as highly as the one's that came before. I wish, in vain.