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16 August 2010

Album Review: Bliss.City.East/Vidulgi OoyoO. Split EP.

Bliss.City.East. & Vidulgi Oooyo.
Album: Split EP.
Record Label: Fake Label Recordings.
Release Date: June 6, 2010.

Bliss.City.East. happen to be friends of mine, but that isn't the only reason I'm doing this review. I'm doing it because they rock and this Split EP with Korean shoegaze band Vidulgi OoyoO (pronounced: "peedoogi oooyou" and the definition: "Vidulgi" is pigeon and "OoyoO" is milk) is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. This is some of the best underground gaze you have never heard...yet, that is.

The album was released earlier this year through Korean label Electric Muse and is available for the rest of us on Chicago's Fake Label Recordings. Bliss.City.East. hail from Chicago, Illinois, but sound like London circa '92. Perry Pelonero (guitar, bass, keys and main architect of sound), Kim Welsh (vocals, keys), Gianfranco Ventura (bass), Eric D'asto (guitars), Adam Dahir (keyboards) and Joey Levenson from the mighty SPC ECO (wow!) do an amazing job on this album. Bliss.City.East. know their history and use it to craft a modern shoegaze sound. Perry Pelonero was a guitar tech for and friends with many, many popular and (not so popular!) shoegaze bands back in the day(Swervedriver, My Bloody Valentine, etc. These are the popular ones, lol!). Perry knows the history and the sound of shoegaze as well as anyone I know. He also fronted Skylight in 1991, with Brent Martino, which is a great shoegaze band. Perry is the real deal and has used his knowledge to craft a shoegaze mini masterpiece.

The sound of Bliss.City.East. is at once familiar, and at the same time fresh and exciting. The first track is "Signal Earth", and it is a dreamy shoegaze rocker in classic style. Perry does some nice looping in this song, but it's Kim's vocals that really get in your head. The timbre of her voice takes you away to another world. What gorgeous vocals!A+ on "Signal Earth".

Track two, entitled "Stop Clock", is my personal favorite on the album. Kim's vocals are melodic, sexy and ever so dreamy. I love the way she says "tick tock" in the background. It makes you feel as though time is actually running out. For what, I don't know, but it is definitely not out for Bliss.City.East.! These guys will be around a long time if they keep this standard of beauty and craftsmanship up! This track is an instant classic in my opinion.

Track three, "Darth Vader Head" (great title), opens with the deep rhythmic breathing guessed it, Darth Vader! The guitar is pure noise rock/shoegaze fusion. This song is so catchy and not in a typical "pop" way. It is Kim's vocals, again, that catch your ear. This song has a great melody. A+!

Track 4, "Psychic", is mind blowing. It immediately grabs you with a wall of fuzzy guitar and Bonham-"esque" drums. Kim's vocals are murmuring and dreamy. It is hard to understand what she is saying, but that is a shoegaze standard. Most shoegaze/dream pop is about melody, not lyrical content. Just listen to Loveless or Victorialand and tell me what they are saying! I'll pay you if you get it right!! Another A+ track.

This brings me to the last track, "Lovely", and indeed it is just that. What a gorgeous wall of sound and texture! Again Kim's vocals are the "selling" point. She is an amazing talent.The groove on this song is so funky! It has an almost James Brown beat, but sped up a bit. The guitar, as usual, is a wall of resplendent noise. Perry is a master guitarist and uses effects as well as anybody I have ever heard. I don't think I hear a bass in this song. That seems to be the hallmark of good, classic shoegaze (i.e MBV, Secret Shine, Lilys, etc.). "Lovely" is another winner.

I couldn't be happier with what Bliss.City.East. have accomplished on this EP. I cannot wait for the full length, as Perry has let me preview some of the new tracks. They are great, great, great! It is going to be massive. Not only do they have a full length coming soon, but Dean Garcia(!) of Curve and SPC ECO is remixing the track "Darth Vader Head"! I give the Bliss half of this split EP an honest 5 stars.

Now onto Vidulgi OoyoO. Vidulgi hail from Seoul, South Korea and have been stunning shoegaze fans all over Asia for a couple of years. Their first album, Aero (2008), won many prestigious music awards and prizes in their native Korea. This EP is an appetizer of sorts until the sophmore album is released. Vidulgi Ooyoo’s contributions expand upon the material presented on Aero and the new EP offers a look into the sonic dreamscapes the band will explore next.

While all four new compositions are well-crafted and brimming with a wonderful array of hypnogogic guitar noise, Jong-seok (guitars and vocals) admits the group have a definite favourite from the four.

"The songs have similar textures as Aero, but incorporate different spectrums and styles," Jong-seok says. "We tried to include aspects from psychedelic blues, post-rock and ‘90s indie rock. The song "Goodnight Shining" is about a total eclipse I saw on the National Geographic Channel. It was so impressive. We feel that "Goodnight Shining" flows like the scenes of a movie (It does!-Danny). Whenever we play it live, it always moves us," says Jong-seok.

It definitely moves me! Wow, what a brilliant song. It is an instrumental that is much like Mogwai, Explosions in the Sky and some Slowdive. This song is an absolute STUNNER. A+ x's 10! "Goodnight Shining" also happens to be the last song on in the line up for Vidulgi, so let me backtrack to the first song. "Mosquito Incognito" is an uber-dreamy shoegaze monster. It reminds me of early Verve. It has the tripped out guitar lines full of silvery delay and fuzz. The male/female vocals tie it all together with a gorgeous bow of melody. The ending is a cacophony of beautiful noise. "Mosquito Incognito" is killer song!

The second track, "Dusky", is another dreamy stunner. It builds slowly with a looping guitar line and high-hat. It is another alluring, sonic mountain of a song. It builds slowly, much like the above-mentioned Explosions in the Sky or Mogwai, and takes you to an altitude rarely experienced in any song. It will make you high!

That brings me to "Mermaid Queen", track three, a bewitching flower of a song. "Mermaid Queen" is noisy, beautiful and trippy, and is sung by Ki-hun Sung with a childlike vocal timbre. Her voice is puerile and beautiful. The music is swirling and noisy. It is the perfect combination of sounds and effects. It pushes you over the edge with sound and makes you question what beauty is supposed to be. It reminds me of Blonde Redhead's album 23 in style. It is really a spiritual experience. Ace track.

Overall, this is a must-own EP. Two great shoegaze/dream pop bands separated by thousands of miles of ocean and culture have come together to create a mini masterpiece. It proves that shoegaze is alive and well all over the world and many, many people love it. It is truly the scene that celebrates itself! (If only life were as simple as this! We could actually consider world peace. Ok, off my soap box.)

This EP gets 5 HUGE stars! Buy it right now!

If you are in the area, Bliss.City.East. play this Thursday August 19,2010 at:

Reggie's Music Joint
2109 State Street
Chicago, Illinois.

Review by: Danny.