ALBUM REVIEW: Väljasõit Rohelisse – Külastus

Written for the 405

A minimum of percussion: a tambourine being struck in a reverb chamber. A one-note drone of electric guitar: overdrive pedal being pushed through the floor as the EQ pushes up into the red. The vocals sound distant: poking out of the murk on occasion, barely noticeable, before sinking back below the surface. The Velvet Underground & Nico came out over forty years ago. It’s a cliché, but they don’t become clichés unless there’s some grain of truth in there: it was a blueprint, a Year Zero, and countless sub-genres and the like sprung from it. Garage rock, psychedelia, lo-fi, krautrock. And there remain bands who slavishly stick to the template Lou Reed and co laid down.

Estonian five-piece Väljasõit Rohelisse, smartly, pick and choose from the best of the Velvet Underground’s sound and that of their myriad descendants. Sometimes the basic drone guitar sound they’ve got going on isn’t a million miles away from ‘Heroin’ or, actually, stuff off White Light/White Heat. Then at times things get weirder, and we’re getting into Faust territory. When things tighten up a little, we’re closer to Neu! Or; The Horrors circa Primary Colours, sifting through the same set of influences as their estranged Estonian cousins.

There’s something to be said about the way the band flit between these different configurations, keeping this quadragenarian style of music fresh. There’s also something to be said for the style of music being supplanted from its usual, all-American (or freaky German) context and being filtered through new ears, mouths, minds and hands. If only they were a little more consistent, or that were enough.

That wild oscillation between styles I mentioned before, from “loose” to “tight” (ahem) in the band’s playing can be put down to the band’s self-proclaimed “amateur” status. A collection of five members, who keep their identities more or less concealed, Väljasõit Rohelisse is more like an extracurricular activity for them than a full-time job: by day, they’re all busy as illustrators or, it says here, “renowned fashion artists”.

The EP itself isn’t bad, or boring, or anything. It’s enjoyable, it floats along, in and out of your immediate consciousness. It creates a “mood”. You can place it in a certain musical pantheon (sorry), seen above. But it doesn’t really go anywhere. You don’t feel like it was intended to, either; the songs don’t sound so much as born from jam sessions as they are the jam sessions themselves, recorded straight onto DAT. In fact “Pea on Pilvedes” (Translation: Head in the clouds), the centrepiece of Külastus, was recorded in the band’s rehearsal space on a cheap portable recorder. And it sounds it.

If your arty friend had a band, and that band recorded something like Külastus, and they played it to you: you wouldn’t hate it. You’d enjoy it, you’d make all these connections to previous bands in your head, you’d dig it. You’d tell them, good job! You know what they’re going for. But you’d probably not listen to it again.

5/10

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