(08/2008) VISION THROUGH SOUND RELEASES HIGHLY-ANTICIPATED FIFTH LP, The History of the Damnable Life and Deserved Death of Vision Through Sound
By Liz Pelly
The members of Vision Through Sound are an intelligent bunch of freaks, which they prove on their most recent efforts, The History of the Damnable Life and Deserved Death of Vision Through Sound. Just take a look at the album’s title and artwork. (Is that an evil cat lowering down a noose to two cute kittens? Yes.)
Freaky vocals, group chants, screams that might be cries for help, and female harmonies wrap around some of the most thought-provoking and mindful lyrics that songwriters Andrew Krolikowski and Franny Berkman have ever written: “Po-Tee-Weet?” is the band’s heaviest, angriest song to date, drenched in political bits that comment on society at large; the zombies and magic tricks that surface in “Abra” meditate on the meaning of decrepit romantic relationships; meanwhile, all tracks are soaked in the dark evidence that these guys have spent a lot of time in their heads, at the library, reading a whole lot of Vonnegut.
But the album is a far throw from a downer: Krolikowski’s uplifting, trademark vocals return and take center stage, peeking in and out of Fran Berkman and Mike McManus’s melodic, memorable guitar riffs and bass lines (part psychedelic/dance/funk, part Nirvana/Pixies/Pumpkins) that seem to sometimes fight for the spotlight, all while the three run full speed ahead, away from Mike Sarna’s fast-driving drums. Cameos from ex-Nothing Plural members Michelle Kovacs and Chris Fleming on trumpet, flute, violin, and cello, layered over other various accompanists on bird flute, Theremin, xylophone, bells, clapping, grunting, and general freakishness, make for some of the most epic, crazed instrumentals to ever surface on a VTS record.
“Missionary Men” is undeniably the album’s defining track, a representation of the band’s ability to take a dark, terrible situation and turn it into an intelligent dance song.
“I feel that [Missionary Men] defines us as a band,” says Krolikowski. “This song is an attempt to mobilize those who have had horrible things happen to them; to look atrocity in the eye and laugh, but not mindlessly—always being aware of it, but also being aware of the power of the human spirit to be able to overcome these things. I have lost my faith in a lot of things, but this song is a reflection of my faith in the power of music, and even though a song can’t single handedly right all of the wrongs in the world, it can hopefully at least bring people together to give living an enjoyable life a try.”
Though the album is the last that Sarna and McManus will ever record with the band (perhaps the reason for the band’s self-proclaimed “death”), Krolikowski and Berkman’s lyricism are undoubtedly the band’s biggest evolution and the album’s biggest accomplishment, keeping spirits high that there will be reincarnation and years of future lives for Vision Through Sound.