Review: C V L T S – Realiser

(Cassette, Constellation Tatsu, 2012)

(LP, Aguirre Records, 2012)

Everyone who has some experience with reviewing music knows that is takes different number of listens for various albums to sink in, in order to develop thoughts, conclusions and ideas related to each release. While some albums can click after one-two listens, some might need several repeated listens, sometimes clocking in dozens. “Realiser”, the newest album by American (Kansas, to be more exact) surf drone duo C V L T S, belongs in the latter category. It doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a “difficult” or “challenging” album, it’s just the inconsistency and differing quality of songs (or tracks, if you will), that makes it so darn hard to review.

Just like the artwork, featuring an interesting, but none the less overall featureless satellite photo of some stretch of land that might be anywhere on Earth (or even on another planet), the tracks seem rather bland and featureless at first. Some standard “psychedelic” synth noodlings here and there, occasionally interrupted with a more energetic, more instrumental track. That’s the problem with “Realiser” – it never really seems to “take off”. While the opening “Realiser” might be considered an electronic intro to a pretty rocking, guitar and drum driven “Brahma Weapons” (which is the highlight of the album, definitely), after the second track the album seems to fall into a miasmatic, somewhat confusing maze of droning synth tracks that tend to blend into one another and offer no clear direction. The tracks fade in and out, offering rather enjoyable, but overall forgettable droning noodles. There’s a bit of lo-fi hypnagogia looming all over their music, and there’s some New Age heritage to be found here.

That’s the main problem with “Realiser” – it gives a few false starts and a few treats – like the really groovy, head-bobbing krautrocky jam of “Brahma Weapons”, but most of the other tracks lack much substance. Most of them are just murky, somewhat “trippy” lo-fi improvisations based more or less on tired drones. It’s almost as if they managed to make a track interesting for several seconds (starting with a scrap of interesting melody or some semblance of a rhythm), but getting bored after that time and just let the track develop “somehow”, without much idea about what to do with it. In summary, “Realiser” seems like a collection of failed ideas, that probably have some potential hidden deep within, yet lack clear vision of how they should be developed. This being said, “Brahma Weapons” is a banger and I really hope those two will head in direction of synth-laden psych rock jams, or at least infuse their electronic tracks with more structure and cohesion.

C V L T S – Brahma Weapons from PAT VAMOS on Vimeo.


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