Vas Deferens Organization and Brad Laner - "Transcontinental Conspiracy"
(Niklas Records 2011, originally released 1996)
From Aural Innovations #43 (October 2011)
Headed up by Matt Castille and Eric Lumbleau, Vas Deferens Organization's history dates back to the mid-1990s and includes a sizable discography. Summary descriptions of the band can't possibly do them justice, but put a gun to my head and I'll say - imagine if The Residents listened to 100 of the best Psychedelic, Krautrock, Prog, Experimental, and 80s Hometaper albums, and then started making albums based on their digestion and regurgitation of all those albums... and you might get something like Vas Deferens Organization (VDO).
Originally released in 1996, Transcontinental Conspiracy was a collaboration with Brad Laner, who's most prominent bands were Steaming Coils and Medicine, though I was surprised to read in the promo sheet that he did time in Savage Republic on keyboards and percussion. Niklas Records has reissued the album, remastered and with a bonus track. Of all the bands I've discovered through Aural Innovations that I would call truly exceptional, VDO are among the most criminally unknown, and Transcontinental Conspiracy is a solid representation of the craftsman's control of chaos that Matt and Eric are all about.
The album opens with the 16 minute First Planet Not To Plummet Seaward. It starts off with a cool groove that quickly takes a hard turn into a twisted mish-mash of frantic tribal/bossa nova/electro rhythms. The rhythms get momentarily disjointed before morphing into a grooving pulse that you really could dance to, but also includes wild electronics that act as freaky, almost melodic, lead lines. Winding down the piece is a howling avant-orchestral jam that sounds like it was performed in a tunnel. Wow, what a trip! Monk Fish Liver Transplant Plate is a short grooving glom of tribal and other rhythmic patterns plus plenty of electro fun. The 20 minute Last Few Days in the Land Of Happy Dreams is a continually shifting experimental electronic excursion that's less about rhythm than the previous tracks and more focused on the assemblage and manipulation of sound. The thing about VDO is that a LOT is typically happening at once, and they excel at blending it all together in a way that allows the listener to easily pick out all the pieces (if your brain is up to the task), but it's all seamless enough that you can just surrender and enjoy the sensation of your brain being liquified. Near the 7 minute mark a dark, moody melodic bit begins, surrounded by a beehive of flitting electronics and soundscapes. Then it all goes ballistic, accompanied by maddened piano and voices, before coming in for a landing with a slow, trippy, liquid psychedelic jam, and finally winding down with pure VDO chaos. T is next, which treats us to nearly 10 minutes of avant-psychedelia and sound collage that's both mind-bending and floating but also dark and foreboding and even rocks out at times. Tripped out mind-fuckery for the experimental crowd. This is the track from the album I chose for the VDO special I did last year on AI Space Rock Radio. Scheming Foils is the bonus track, starting off with tribal rhythms and a raga vibe, but soon morphs into a VDO take on electro-pop, and then just as quickly transitions to a peaceful, soulful, jazzy tune. Then we start to rock out against a drugged drum 'n bass pulse. It's like some kind of strange medley and certainly the most song-oriented feeling stuff on the album.
Does this all sound insanely all over the place? But you're intrigued, huh? If you're a Space-Psych-Krautrock fan with a penchant for the avant-garde, then VDO is for you. But don't take my word for it. Visit the Aural Innovations Radio shows page, click Aural Innovations Space Rock Radio, and scroll down to show #251 for an ALL Vas Deferens Organization special. It'll be the best dang lobotomy you've ever had. I promise!
For more information you can visit the Niklas Records web site at: http://www.niklasrecords.com
Distribution is through Serpent. CLICK HERE to check them out.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz