When I first sat down and listened to Vi-Res’ The First People I listened in passing, casually surfing the Internet and letting the music surround me as a sort of ambiance. To be honest, the music did not really do much for me, and I found it to be a bit repetitive and slow for casual listening. Wondering if I was missing something, I decided to navigate back to the Bandcamp page and re-read the interesting description of the music. After processing the intriguing characterization of the album, I noticed the titles of the songs and then it hit me: this is a concept album! Approaching the music in a wholly different light, the sounds and rhythms started making much more sense and made the overall process a really enjoyable and challenging experience.
Vi-Res is a synth-based project conducted by Michael Figucio based out of Sydney, Australia. It is safe to say that Vi-Res is not short of imagination, as the premise of the album is exceptionally complicated and makes for an unusual storyline. Essentially, the premise is that hyper-intelligent alien life forms inhabited the Earth before a catastrophic meteor crash, forcing them to leave with hope in their hearts with tentative plans to return. The beings finally made their return in 1987, finding a species titled “Humans” to be dominating the planet. Although they attempt to surreptitiously study the humans, they are eventually caught, resulting in cruel, torturous experiments and interrogations, creating much hostility between the two species. A war then erupts and the aliens gain control over the world. Their main objective was to reprogram the human race into a harmonious and sustainable civilization. The chronology of the songs musically illustrate the events that take place in the development of this story, so one must go into the album with both an open and attentive mind in order to experience it fully.
As previously stated, each song in the album attempts to tell the story of a specific event in the exchange between the two life forms. While some tracks are a bit ambiguous, some tracks really hit the nail on the hand and deliver a sound experience that makes it easy to internalize and visualize the actions that are hypothetically taking place. “The Invasion” delivers an ominous mood with a lot of staccato synth parts, creating a violent and aggressive visualization that retains the theme of an alien invasion.
“Surrender” does the same thing, presenting its listeners with a dangerous, eerie mood yet maintaining a nice groove that makes it easy to listen to, even though the music itself is not quite easy to grasp. My personal favorite track “The Aftermath” is perhaps the most peaceful and well-composed piece, sounding like something out of a movie score with its organ-esque sounding synth lines. Another track to point out would be the enigmatic “Love Theme,” which consisted of ubiquitous band instruments (guitar, bass, drums), and contained more of a traditional melody and feel to its groove.
Something that Vi-Res could work on is his sense of melody, as occasionally I found that the melody was sacrificed in order for his expression to be correct in the context of the LP. In a concept album, it is ideal that both melody and purpose go hand-in-hand, and oftentimes in The First People they do, however there is a decent amount of compromise. On the flip side of that, I found the sound experimentation to be solid and a lot of the sounds that came out of the songs to be rather impressive and interesting. If Vi-Res can further his sense of melody in his compositions, the music will be more versatile in the sense that it will be listenable both in casual and serious situations. However, in the scope of a concept album, I definitely feel as if The First People served its purpose and successfully illustrated the events that he intended to take place.
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