USA Out Of Vietnam
Crashing Diseases and Incurable Airplanes
Released : 5th May 2014
Now then dear reader – any promo that says a band is a cross between E.L.O and Sunn O)))) is bound to grab the attention is it not? And after the initial thoughts you reflect on the assertion and decide, no, it cannot be, however in this instance it is.
But more of that later, onto the promo gubbins first
Their musical influences are both transparent and widespread, and include black metal, doom, drone, minimalist composition, sludge, noise, post rock, shoe-gaze, dream pop, nineties psychedelia and classic seventies radio dial pop. Particularly transparent is this love of pop music, dense seventies-style production, and harmonized vocals that swerves around hairpin turns. If you really wanted to try to harness this slippery eel you could say that the band’s sound is as equally informed by the stacked production and pop savvy of Jeff Lynne’s E.L.O. as it is by the crushing heavy drones of Sunn O)))).
On their debut, USA Out of Vietnam proudly boast of their love of lush harmony and infectious melody but also like to push past the 3 minute traditional pop format with 10 minute epics – psychedelic, in the truest sense of the word.
With over 15 guest musicians appearing on Crashing Diseases and Incurable Airplanes (including Montreal singer/songwriter Patrick Watson who contributes treated vocal loops on two songs here), their debut is vast in it’s scope, and abundant with rich sounds. Brass sections elbow up to detuned and distorted Marshall stacked guitars, spoken word sections appear in unlikely spaces, vocoder vocals appear within breaths of angelic choir vocals, vintage synth and sampled noises hover over lush string sections while a piano beds down with crushing Swans-style pummelling. The lyrics across the album mirror the sound that surrounds them, with themes grasping towards redemption that search for a sliver of light hiding in the darkness.
Crashing Diseases and Incurable Airplanes slowly reels the listener in as opposed to attacking them with ballast and decibels. USA Out of Vietnam have created an enveloping and vivid piece of work – but flush that incense and peppermint flotsam out of your head because USA Out of Vietnam insist that this trip is for real.
The four members of USA Out of Vietnam are apparently Son of Fogman, El Tigre, Jordan Thomas Brown III & Fogman. They formed “in the frigid months of 2010”. The album was recorded at Montreal’s Hotel 2 Tango studio with producer Howard Bilerman (Arcade Fire and Godspeed You! Black Emperor). The album has been available since 2012 but has only just achieved physical release.
The Aural Delights View – Given the Hotel 2 Tango link comparisons with GY!BE are fairly obvious, but in this case, a truism, in that there is a sizeable portion of post-rock delivery herein. However it does tend to go way beyond the work of the other band, to a place which, in some cases, defies an easily derived description. It is epic – 5 songs in just under 60 minutes – and calling them songs is doing them a bit of a dis-service – with only one under 10 minutes. It is multi-faceted, the key element is an extremely heavy guitar attack with Bonham like drumming, but this is couched in a production of what might be best described as vast in it complexity. So that’s the Sunn O))) bit taken care of. So where does Jeff Lynne bit fit in? Well, I guess, in the vocal elements which don’t stray into the throat torturing excesses of most doom/death metal and get almost ethereal in places, there are also instances of mind-flip production that imply that famous Black Country attention to detail, it gets quite operatic in places. Always a good test of quality for me, these days, is does it grab the attention, and do I sit through the whole thing? The answer is yes, a most enjoyable listen and a fascinating album and well worth tracking down.