VTR’s EP “Soul to Skin” is a lesson in less being more. The duo’s electronica roots veer away from beats and huge moments entirely. Instead, the EP focuses on ambience, feeling, simplicity in a message and a slow creeping dread in the musical sea of calm.
The title track which opens the EP is the best example of this style. Faint electric guitar shoegazing hides under a simple bass buzz riff and sultry vocals. Everything else in the synths, warbles and twisted backing noises is there to take you off of your axis – making a chill out track feel like it’s about to erupt into a furious angry tirade. “Dreams” does have a kick drum pulse throughout but its the tracks minimalist approach to its main melody that stands tallest. It harks back to 80’s synth-pop with its instrumentation but its calming shuffle still has hushed undertones of weird synths and bleeding electric guitars creating a bit of a post-apocalyptic vibe. It’s just its a post-apocalypse where we’re all flopped out on the couch! “Whisper” is the most danceable track on the EP, which uses vocal snippets chopped up into little riffs of their own to create a second melody above the keyboards. Even shh-ing is chopped up into something more psychedelic. “Find a Way” reminds me of Venus Hum a little, with its dark chord structure and rubbery synths pulling together to make a synth ballad. It’s the only track on the EP that has a traditional song structure and stands out as a result. A remix of the title track closes the EP with low bass dubs and vaporwave like drones that don’t improve on the strong original.
I really like the vibe that VTR are going for. There’s the part that is a retro synth, the part that feels like it wants to break out into a metal anthem but is being restrained by a mute button and the vocals have a really soulful depth to them. These tracks feel like VTR are trying out different thoughts to see where these three elements cross-section could be and whilst none of them are immediate radio hooks, all of them have their merits and will grow on you after repeated listens. For the future, I hope they continue down the atmospheric darker route with more complexity as I think there’s a winning formula in there somewhere just at their fingertips. The title track is stunning.
Recommended track: Soul to Skin
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