Music » Rhythm & Views

The VSS: Nervous Circuits & 25:37 (Sargent House)



Like many great bands, the VSS existed during a small, finite window of time—about 36 months in the mid-1990s. The Colorado-by-way-of-San Francisco band eschewed trends of the day by combining abrasive post-punk with synthesizers, simultaneously harking back to early punk rock of the late 1970s (when no rule went unbroken) and foreseeing a terrifying future. The confrontational hurricane that was the VSS' music included nightmarish soundtrack music, angular guitar, bellowed vocals in the manner of Big Black, rubbery Fugazi-style bass and swatches of pure intoxicating noise.

This new double-LP collection (also available as a digital download) was released at the end of November. It combines the band's only full-length recording, Nervous Circuits from 1997, with an expanded version of the 2001 singles collection originally titled 21:51.

Cuts such as "Effigy," "Lunar Weight" and "Death Scene" (from Nervous Circuits) will cause fire to explode behind your eyes. When those flames ebb, tracks from 25:37 such as "The Fist and Fingers," "Cosmic Retribution" and "Crawling in Place" will pour accelerant on the warm embers. And when you hear the amazing title track on Nervous Circuits, you'll know what a union of Glenn Branca, At the Drive-In and Suicide might've sounded like.

The members of this band have all gone on to other projects, including Pleasure Forever and Red Sparowes, and vocalist Sonny Kay founded the now-defunct indie label Gold Standard Laboratories. But, fortunately, the VSS' music has been preserved so that today's listeners can enjoy it. This is monumental stuff, truly exhilarating and among the best reissues of 2012.

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