Recently I returned home after traveling for about a month. Coming back my apartment felt strange. Foggy and empty as if I was visiting a memory or a staged reproduction of my life. Unpacking is a long process for me. Often my suitcase will stay open on my floor for days as I slowly find the correct places for its contents. VTCN Radio’s new album Mydriase has been a slow unpacking process for me. I’ve had the album for a couple months and I’ve listened to it repeatedly often several times in row. It drifts through my apartment like pale blue smoke. Each song a shifting amorphous shape.
This is a deep album both musically and conceptually. VTCN Radio uses sounds as allegorical stories to explore a spiritual journey. Despite its electronic base Mydriase contains an organic wildness. The album opens softly with the title track. Natural sounds weave through the slow synthesized rhythms. Nathan Bokobza, one half of this Parisian duo, is a classically trained pianist and his sparse and delicate refrains float on rhythmic currents. His musical partner, guitarist Louis Martinez, creates a collage of sonic imagery blurring the lines between natural and synthetic. The title Mydriase comes from an essay of the same name written by French Nobel laureate J. M. G. Le Clézio and refers to the dilation of pupils during hallucinatory states. The longest song “PCP” is an extended psychedelic journey unto itself incorporating throbbing synths, cut up beats, and vocal sounds to induce a feeling of uneasy weightlessness.
As an addition to this ambitious undertaking the video for the second track “Riddle Song” proposes series of mesmerizing images that according to the band tell a story of “a young lady lost between her obsessions and her quest of letting go”. This visual accompaniment to the piece broadens the artistic scope of VCTN Radio as multi-platform artists who have a clear vision of what they want to present.
Obvious great attention and care was taken in sculpting this album into its fully formed entity. It can be played as individual songs or they can be heard as movements in a larger symphonic piece. I recommend listening to it in the dark right before going to sleep. Allow this dark pastiche of sounds to dwell in the twilight between dream and reality where it belongs.
Bruce Wilson was born in the American south and after innumerable global relocations he now resides in Vancouver, British Columbia. Bruce grew up listening to his parents’ copy of The Velvet Underground’s White Light/White Heat and quickly moved on to The Stooges, David Bowie, and The Dead Boys. These days he is a writer and sings for the Vancouver based band “Sunday Morning” who released their epymonious debut album in early 2017. He’d like to have a dog but his apartment is too small.