Tuesday, October 30, 2012

NEW VICTORIANS - II


Ben Hardt has walked from Symphony to Victory.  I met this fellow back in my days at the University of Pittsburgh.  He was doing a sort of pop-rock with string players under the name Ben Hardt and his Symphony.  Despite the nice effect of the string section, it was a little too standard for my musical tastes at the time.  He was an exceptional performer/musician and a really genuine person so I logged him in my mind under R for "remember".  At some unknown point, Ben reinvented himself for the New Victorians.  

How frequently do you have a friend that posts an original song via Facebook/Twitter/Whatever?  What is the likelihood that you will listen to that track?  I would think there are minimal odds.  Discovering new music is important to me in my career, and I even ignore these at least half of the time.  Ben posted the piece Love and War (Tangled), and I almost skipped over it.  At the last second I was like "What the hell?  I can give it a quick sample."    I experienced sounds that changed my entire perspective on the way I was going to attack my day.  It was rockin'.  It was twangy.  It was a "fuck yeah!" of sorts.  The percussion, guitar, and vocals created a scene that was attractive and energizing.  My mediocre morning turned into a day of positivity.  That is the true authority of new music.    

I sent Ben a message or two and asked him if this was part of an upcoming release.  He said that the New Victorians just finished a new E.P., and he  gave me a download link.  II begins with a piece called Still Falls the Rain.  We hear a series of claps that create the foundation of the percussion.  This reminds me of Steve Reich's Clapping Music.  I find it a bit difficult to tell how much classical music is actually part of the composer's musical vocabulary as opposed to just a love for instruments that are traditionally orchestral.  You can judge that for yourself!

Love and War (Tangled) was going to be hard to match with the rest of the collection so I could not foresee what I was in for.  Ghosts In Machines solidifies a tradition.  The violin mini-melody is what grips me tightly in this song, but a synthesizer is utilized in many passages as well.  How appropriate for a Ghost in the Shell type of theme!  These Victorians surely are modern.  Maybe they can eventually become the New Wave Victorians.  That would be hot!  

Lastly, the final track of II, Letting Go, is one of the other stand-out compositions.  A mixture of emotional vocals, strings, piano, and synths creates a powerful ballad to finish a captivating album.  I'm not just reviewing a release here.  There is an important point out of all of this.  We have to remember the significance of listening to new music or experiencing new art in many forms.  The familiar is enjoyable, but only the new can change the course of your life.  You might have to sit through 10 boring tracks that friends of yours have made to get that one fresh experience, and those are some perfectly good odds to me!  We all need to support emerging musicians and experience new art to progress through our lives.  Extra note:  Depeche Mode are listed as an influence on the NV Facebook page.  I thought I heard some of Martin Gore's sentimentality in these recordings!

-Sachem Orenda   

Like New Victorians on Facebook:  www.facebook.com/newvictorians?fref=ts
Love and War (Tangled) is FREE here:  www.newvictorians.bandcamp.com
Sachem Orenda's Apology for Popular Music and the Nihilistic Demiurge is now available:

www.sachemorenda.bandcamp.com

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