Exposé Online banner

Vacuum Tree Head — Botofogos in Shadow Position
(Pest Colors Music #42.BiSP, 2018, CDEP)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2018-11-11

Botofogos in Shadow Position Cover art

And suddenly, after about five or six years of silence, there are two new Vacuum Tree Head EPs. I think the last one I heard was Hypothetical Quandaries (n) from around 2012. I think there was a download of live recordings the following year, and a download of remixes / alternate takes and such, then nothing for a long time. As one might expect, the two EPs (Aasraa and the one currently under review, Botafogos in Shadow Position) are chock full of unusual drawings (a three-eyed elephant knocking down a spiral of dominoes, or several drawings of cat people, for example, all illustrations are by VTH founder-member Jason Berry (who plays soprano sax, electronics, glockenspiel, timpani, and voice on four of the disc’s six tracks, all of which are equally unusual in that they can involve a variety of sounds, and launch off in any direction at any time without warning; that’s the way VTH is and always has been — if you’re looking for something predictable, you’ve come to the wrong place. Also on board are the other VTH co-founder Michael de la Cuesta (synthesizer, tuned percussion), Stephen Wright (bass guitar), Justin Markovitz (drum kit, except one track where Thomas Scandura plays), Richard Barber (bassoon, processing), Kyle Bruckmann (oboe, english horn), Amanda Chaudhary (all kinds of keyboards), Thollem McDonas (electric piano), Richard Lesnik (clarinet, bass clarinet), and vocalist Amy X Neuburg, who sings on three of the tracks (two with lyrics). The compositions are the product of various subsets of members, and nobody here plays on everything. The whole EP is only a smidge shy of 19 minutes. Opener “Chualar Diorama” lounches with a powerful growling bass figure and chaotic drums, and with the intense wordless vocals tends to remind me of classic Magma. “DL / DS” again has the vocal power, though this time with lyrics, which they follow up with a sprightly instrumental jazz workout that grooves along nicely powered by the woodwinds and keys. “Linconlon Log” is a short piece in sort of a twisted chamber style, making use of bassoon and oboe alongside synth, glockenspiel, clavinet, and Mellotron. “Cushion Fortress” crawls along darkly and deliberately with powerfull bass and drums crossing paths with two electric pianos, one played conventionally, the other making electronic weirdsounds, with oboe, bassoon, and bass clarinet and a section for Neuberg’s vocals and lyrics. This and “DL / DS” are easily the high points, but truly this entire EP is a most unusual and wonderful slab of avant experimental rock. So what about Aasraa? Stay tuned.


Filed under: New releases, 2018 releases

Related artist(s): Vacuum Tree Head

More info
http://store.cdbaby.com/cd/vacuumtreehead8

Latest news

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

2020-03-24
Bill Rieflin RIP – The sad news reaches us today of Bill Rieflin's death. Rieflin was best known as a drummer in bands ranging from post-punk to industrial to indie-rock to progressive rock, including work with The Blackouts, Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, Swans, Land, and King Crimson. Rieflin had been battling cancer for several years, and succumbed to it on March 24. He was 59. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Kultivator - Barndomens Stigar – This obscure Swedish progressive quintet originally released Barndomens Stigar on the small, but very excellent Bauta label in 1981 and it has since become a highly coveted and very expensive...  (1996) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues