Exposé Online banner

C.W. Vrtacek — Days of Grace
(DOM US CD 06, 1982/1992, CD)

by Mike Ezzo, Published 1997-05-01

Days of Grace Cover art

Try tackling a review for a project like this and inevitably you end up with blank pages and a headache brought on by acute frustration. Whenever I listen to music of a very personal, experimental nature, I get the notion that the composer intended some sort of significance conferred upon it that to a listener wouldn't be readily apparent without the aid of commentary and explanatory notes. Often one can scarcely infer how much of the music's aggregate is pre-planned, or when chance operations are playing their role. Days of Grace is precisely one of those cases. This CD release contains approximately the entirety of CW Vrtacek's first two solo albums, Victory through Grace and Days and Days, from 1981 and 1982, respectively. At this time the Tascam 4-track tape machine had made its debut, spawning a whole host of home-recording heretics, bent on subverting the hegemony held over the music world by big-time record companies. Is it difficult to picture Vrtacek at home in his bedroom-cum-laboratory, surrounded by instruments and equipment, living out a sort of musical mad-scientist scenario as he concocts his peculiar brand of curios? Shouldn't be.

Vrtacek uses primarily guitar, hand drums and percussion, and tape-manipulation. His compositions are short, terse, and to the point; almost like brief samples or unfinished soundtracks, each piece a sonic interpretation of a landscape, weather conditions, the passing of clouds, etc. I'm repeatedly reminded of nature, of the outdoors. For reference points I would cite Magical Power Mako's Music from Heaven or Bill Nelson's Sounding the Ritual Echo. Notice I didn't say "influences," as I don't imply that at all. Most of the trademark virtues (or perhaps vices, depending on how you see it) of the home-recording artist are present, mixed and processed so that performed material, and source tape material coalesce into a potpourri: overlapping phrases a la Charles Ives; spliced-in found voices such like Holger Czukay pioneered; musique-concrète techniques; and more. At times the voices interrupt my enjoyment of the music's otherwise abstract nature, but readily apparent it is that he can actually play his instruments, and is not merely some clever clown fiddling with knobs and buttons. Guitar is obviously the main weapon of choice and his total command over it serves the soloing and melodic work, while Middle-Eastern percussion trinkets such as dumbek (or what sounds like it) create a ritualistic underpinning. He also seems to love coaxing a pseudo-Arabic sensation out of his primitive synths, and violin. Yes this was about the time digital was sweeping the world, but you won't find DX7's here. Days of Grace sits at that irresolute junction where the primeval meets the Eastern, and the modern.


Filed under: Archives, Issue 12, 1992 releases, 1982 recordings

Related artist(s): C.W. Vrtacek (Charles O'Meara)

More info
http://lustvesseldistribution.myshopify.com/products/c-w-vrtacek-days-of-grace-cd

Latest news

2020-06-14
Keith Tippett RIP – One of the giants of British jazz has left us. Keith Graham Tippetts, known professionally as Keith Tippett, died today at the age of 72. His work from the late 60s into the 70s and beyond includes some of the greatest jazz produced in the UK, and stands as an impressive oevre to this day. » Read more

2020-05-15
Phil May of The Pretty Things RIP – We were saddened to learn that Phil May, lead singer and founding member of The Pretty Things, has died at the age of 75. The band's 1968 album S.F. Sorrow is one of the enduring classics of the psychedelic era, and the group existed in various forms until finally retiring in 2018. » Read more

2020-05-14
Jorge Santana RIP – Jorge Santana, noted guitarist, leader of the band Malo and brother to Carlos Santan, died on May 14 at the age of 68. Jorge and Carlos worked together on a number of occasions, though Jorge's career was centered around Malo, solo work, and with Fania All-Stars. » Read more

2020-05-06
Florian Schneider RIP – Florian Schneider, one of the founders of the pioneering electronic group Kraftwerk, has died at the age of 73. Co-founder Ralf Hütter announced that his bandmate had passed away from cancer after a brief illness. » Read more

2020-04-23
Shindig Festival Goes Lock-Down – Here's what they're saying: It's A Happening Thing! The Shindig! Magazine Lockdown Festival. In our days of no large gatherings of people, maybe it's still possible to have a music festival. Shindig! Magazine is giving it a go with a multi-artist streaming extravaganza on Saturday April 25. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Asgard - Arkana – Arkana is the latest offering from the Italian neo-progressive band Asgard. Their sound is full of power and grandeur, very symphonic, with affected vocals, shifting moods and almost schizophrenic...  (1993) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues