Shoegaze is a term that people love to just throw around whenever there is some distortion and reverb mixed together, which, to people like me who absolutely adore the genre, is really annoying, because actual shoegaze has a very specific sound and aesthetic that is essential to its name. So, when sitting down to listen to Voletta, a two-piece hailing out of Philly, I was immediately skeptical, as they listed shoegaze as a potential genre to describe them. However, I have to say, after listening to their new album Regenerate, I was happily surprised. I think the band do a solid job of incorporating modern musical elements and technologies into their attempt at the shoegaze genre.
Right off the bat, I was hit with “Fractures,” a seemingly gentle song that starts out with a tranquil arpeggio on the synth, soon accompanied by a heavily distorted guitar line. When the vocals come in, the dynamic of the EP becomes obvious— heavy instrumentation combined with a light, airy voice that radiates delicacy. Although it seems to be contrary on the surface, tons of successful and influential shoegaze bands have done this, notably My Bloody Valentine, Ride and Ringo Deathstarr.
I think the band does a very good job of maintaining proper spacing in their music despite the wall of sound that they are able to create. I also really appreciate how, although almost all of the guitar was heavily effected, whether it be reverb, delay, distortion, or all three, the instrumentation never sounds muddy. The balance between a predominantly wet guitar signal and clarity is difficult to successfully accomplish, however I believe Voletta does it well.
Another notable aspect of Regenerate is the cohesiveness of the music. Each song flows into the next very well. This isn't to say that all of the music sounds alike, because it doesn’t; I am just trying to convey that there is a nice consistency throughout the track list. My primary complaint regarding the album, however, is that some of the vocal melodies do sound a bit similar, but it really isn't that noticeable. The plus side of this is that I enjoyed the melodies, so, although some of them reminded me of others, I enjoyed them all.
I quite like how the voice remains continually calm and somewhat sedated throughout the music, as if the vocalist is in some sort of a trance. It gives off the effect that the vocalist is in his own world with the rising and falling instrumentation reflecting his inner emotions that the dynamics of his voice do not directly express. In a way, it appeared to me that the vocalist is reflecting, conveying his thoughts through his lyrics, and his emotions through the instrumentation.
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