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Vanaprasta

Healthy Geometry

(Joyfreaker; US: 1 Nov 2011; UK: Import)

Less is more, more is less

Sometimes more just equals too much. Vanaprasta are a five-piece group who combine elements of prog, chamber pop and rock ‘n’ roll (remember that?)  into an ungainly stew that includes elaborate arrangements, dynamic shifts, layered vocals and a wide variety of sonic textures. Despite all this variety, though—or maybe because of it—the songs come off as unfocused and bland, managing the difficult trick of being less than the sum of their parts.


There is little core to hang onto; album opener “Nine Equals Nine” quickly shifts from an electronica-inflected opening to heartfelt vocals and back again, but leaves the listener out in the cold. The same is true for any number of other elaborate, overblown tunes, like “Minnesota”, “Supernumery” and “Healthy Geometry”, all of which come off as Radiohead lite. “G-” benefits from some muscular guitar work and a sneaky, sinister melody, but not until the final minute of closer “Crushing Ants” does something like a resounding riff bring any song into memorable focus. By then, though, it’s too late.

Rating:

DAVID MAINE is a novelist and essayist. His books include The Preservationist (2004), Fallen (2005), The Book of Samson (2006), Monster, 1959 (2008) and An Age of Madness (2012). He has contributed to The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, Esquire.com and NPR.com, among other outlets. He is a lifelong music obsessive whose interests range from rock to folk to hip-hop to international to blues. He currently lives in western Massachusetts, where he works in human services. Catch up with his blog, The Party Never Stops, at davidmaine.blogspot.com, or become his buddy on Facebook (or Twitter or Google+ or whatever you prefer) to keep up with reviews and other developments.


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