Exposé Online banner

Vacuum Tree Head — Rhizomique
(Pest Colors 42R, 2019, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2020-02-13

Rhizomique Cover art

We last heard from VTH in 2018 with their two excellent EP-length releases Aasraa and Botofogos in Shadow Position. Fact is, it’s pretty hard to track down information on these guys; Discogs shows only four releases by them, the latest being 2011. If you search the internet you’ll get all kinds of hits for vacuum cleaners, intake manifolds and matched vacuum tubes, add “band” to the search and you’ll do a little better. They do have a Myspace page with audio for many of their earlier albums, and their Facebook page shows images of the current edition of the band and their more recent releases. Rhizomique, their latest offering, was released in December of 2019 and features nine tracks, but still clocks in at just under twenty minutes. That’s not a complaint, not at all, this band is a powerhouse of ideas and never fails to generate interest or deliver impressive outbursts of tasty musicianship. Founding members Jason Berry and Michael De La Cuesta, both multi-instrumentalists, have a hand in the composition of nearly all of the cuts, along with Amanda Chaudhary (synths, keyboards, piano) and guitarist Richard Corny helping out, track depending. Drummer Justin Markovits and bassist Brett Warren play on all of the cuts, as does Jason Bellenkes (flute, soprano, alto and tenor saxes, clarinet) and Steve Adams (baritone sax), with several other instrumentalists playing on this track or that, throughout the album. The set kicks off with “Hegemony Cricket” that will remind a bit of instrumental Zappa in the Grand Wazoo period, but it is the unmistakable acrobatic voice of Amy X Neuburg that is first heard on the second track, “Bosses,” that pretty much sets the tone for much of the rest of what’s here, carrying forward to “Nubdug” and “Marlon Brando” with a mix of power jazz, rock, hints of bop, funk, Canterbury, and much more. “Mystic Chord” is a short instrumental vignette that offers layers of woodwinds over Myles Boisen’s lap steel with unusual electronic sounds hovering in the background, with another short instrumental “Gnostic Charms” following, this one being more aggressive and driven, back into Zappa territory, though it’s barely over a minute long. “Meritaten” is barely half a minute, but acts as an introduction to the powerful and funky “EMS Deluxe,” a bit reminiscent of the early 70s Miles Davis style, with Amy X’s vocals gracing both tracks and a killer guitar solo by Corny. “Bubbleclaw” closes the set with Neuberg's voice over an engaging slow-building jazz-rock epic all of a minute and a half in length! There’s a lot of amazing twists and turns across these nine tracks that will keep the listener on the edge of their seat.


Filed under: New releases, 2019 releases

Related artist(s): Vacuum Tree Head, Amy X Neuburg

More info
http://store.cdbaby.com/cd/vacuumtreehead9

Latest news

2020-10-14
Audion Is Back in Business – Our esteemed colleague Alan Freeman has restarted Audion Magazine after a seven year hiatus. The new incarnation is available online on their Bandcamp site. Audion's history goes back to 1984, and included 58 issues up to 2013. Issue #59 is available now, and #60 is in the works. » Read more

2020-10-06
Romantic Warriors IV – Krautrock (Part 2) Is in the Works – Zeitgeist Media, the people who have brought us the great series of documentary films chronicling the history of progressive rock, are working on the second installment of their examination of German music. Krautrock 2 will focus on artists from Münich such as Guru Guru, Amon Düül II, Xhol Caravan, Kraan, Witthüser & Westrupp, and Popol Vuh. » Read more

2020-09-09
Simeon Coxe RIP – Simeon Coxe, best known for his experimental electronics in the band Silver Apples, has died at the age of 82. The band's 1968 debut album set the stage for both German electronic music and experimental punk music a decade later. Coxe died on September 8 from pulmonary fibrosis. » Read more

2020-09-05
Gary Peacock RIP – Legendary bassist Gary Peacock, veteran of many recordings and performances with Paul Bley, George Russell, Roland Kirk, Bill Evans, Tony Williams, and many more. » Read more

2020-07-22
Tim Smith RIP – Tim Smith, leader of the eccentric band Cardiacs, has died at the age of 59 after many years of health problems. Cardiacs was known for intense and complicated music that combined punk energy with the rhythmic and harmonic sophistication of progressive rock. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Ars Nova - Sunshine and Shadows – A few issues back I reviewed the reissue of Ars Nova’s 1968 first album. Here we have their second and last effort. It takes the baroque-meets-psych sound of the debut and turns a bit more to...  (2006) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues