Thank you to all the people that told me I need to listen to this. Vectorscan is a truly weird beast. I’m not sure it could be considered metal. There are traditional Asian sounding influences, traditional Indian, a few metal moments, symphonic moments, free jazz and the list goes on.
Amogh Symphony seems to be more of a changing collective than a fixed, set band. The three core members are spread all over: the U.S., India, and Russia. In addition, they have lots of guests which brings a maturity and worldliness that is hard to find in any genre of music.
The first two times through, all I could think was, “What is this?” I thought there was no way I would listen to this more than a few times. It sounded like disjointed nonsense. But now the whole thing has come together spectacularly. I swear this must be the soundtrack to a David Lynch film. Some parts remind me of the old Kayo Dot.
I think what makes this album work so well is the balance. Songs like the fourth track (which has such an obnoxiously long title I refuse to type it here) allow you to get absolutely swept up in the beautiful atmosphere. But it never sits comfortably for too long. It gives a firm musical rejection to the idea that beautiful, atmospheric music has to be easy to listen to.
Despite the complexity and disjointedness, the whole thing works when interpreted as one long piece of music. Most tracks run into each other and make it impossible to tell where one begins and the next ends. Even if it doesn’t sound that way at first, the album has an internal logic that makes it a single, unified whole.
There are a lot of sterile, robotic, mechanical sounds on this album coming from electronica, feedback, and sampling. But these moments often evolve into really substantial, organic moments. The sixth track has some of the best climaxes by bringing the band up to a soaring moment with orchestra. It then returns to noisy metal and dies down to an electronic voice saying something (I hear “antivirus” a lot?) which evolves into a gentle acoustic guitar.
What I like so much about these songs are the contrast. Those high moments or gentle flowing moments wouldn’t feel as high or as gentle without the interspersed mechanical contrasts. The changes aren’t sudden and unexpected either. Somehow they make it flow together naturally.
I know it is my job to describe this musical experience in words, but this is a situation where words cannot do it justice. Part of the greatness of this album is the process of finally “getting it” without having any idea why such a strange set of sounds makes sense to you all of a sudden.
I’m going to link to the ninth track, because this has much of what I’ve described with the beautiful, transcendent moments that weave in and out of lots of other more ominous sounds like a cacophony of children’s voices. The chord progressions are strange, yet satisfying. Even on the “easy listening” parts, it is often hard to pinpoint a tonal center. It erupts into metal parts. Each section serves to enhance the contrasting parts.
Overall, I can’t get enough of this album. I’ll give it a 9.5/10. Here’s a sample: