Hailing from Long Island, NY, Douglas Bruno aka Void New World is a solo composer/musician/multi-instrumentalist who recently released a nineteen-song album entitled Visionaries and Vandals. Let’s get a couple things out of the way. Bruno’s music is detailed, contains great production and does what you hope instrumental compositions will accomplish, which is to forget about vocals. Each song has a different texture and tone that differentiates it from the rest while still accomplishing a similar feel to the whole.
Being a long-term fan of Trent Reznor I can say that Visionaries and Vandals often felt like unreleased tracks from NIN. I’m not saying this is a bad thing but this was the first thing I thought when listening the album in sequential order. The style and vibe spans the NIN catalogue from Broken to Hesitation Marks. For example, “Thrill of the Kill” brings to mind Reznor’s early heavily distorted guitar-based work on Broken while the song “Visionaries and Vandals” seemed like it could be an alternate version to “The Wretched.” Although Visionaries and Vandals will unequivocally get compared to NIN that doesn’t mean it should be ignored.
Bruno is ahead of the curve of a lot of others when it comes to song structure and layering elements. Being able to put together disparate elements and make it engaging is no easy task but he does it extremely well on songs like ”Coming Undone.” The dark ambient electronic elements mix with a classic sounding piano while the song goes through dynamic shifts.
There are some pieces on Visionaries and Vandals that are atmospheric and contain sparse, subdued instrumentation. “All They Claim” has intricate percussion that reminded me of a mouse scattering on an oak floor. The song builds with layers and get more intense in the process.The closest you will get to a dance track will be “The Best of Us” while “Fauxen” is a murky, ominous song that plays into Bruno’s strengths.
For a debut album Visionaries and Vandals felt like a little too much in terms of length. Nineteen girth-y tracks is a lot to ingest any way you spin it and Visionaries and Vandals may have been more effective at about ten tracks or so. Whether Bruno is conscious of the fact or not I would encourage him to try and distance himself from the NIN influence. Even the cover art and font for Visionaries and Vandals are eerily similar to The Downward Spiral and The Fragile.
Overall, Visionaries and Vandals is a solid album that showcases an artist with a boatload of potential. He has all the right tools but now just needs to a bit more digging to find a style that defines Void New World.
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