Vert:x - "Ggantija"
From Aural Innovations #43 (October 2011)
This is primarily the work of one Neil Whitehead, aka "Vert:x", though Keith Hill's contribution is significant, as he contributes drums and guitar on roughly half the album. The Vert:x sound is a full combo of live guitar/bass/drums/synth-keys (obviously with overdubbing) and three of the four tracks on this release are in the 11-16 minute range. Orthostat is a heavy steady-cruisin' space-rock instrumental in the classic F/i style (hence, Hawkwind influence is implied), laying on repeated synth squiggles, squeaks, bubbles and chirps over a basic chuggin' riff, those classic analogue sounds doing spritely arpeggios and different dances to each bar. Some cosmic keyboard lines come into play about mid-way through the track... wish these had been mixed just a tad higher as they give even more of a boost to the overall mood. Either that or the snare is just mixed too high. I don't mean to bitch, I really do dig this tune! A.F.M. Speaks begins with a basic programmed drum-beat before the guitar kicks in... and wow!... the rhythm guitar here is better mixed for a fuller fuzzier tone, spacious and warm, powerful... epic! This is a slow moodier rocker, with an almost sad vibe to it. Of course the synth embellishments never stop. The sound of tom-tom rolls have now joined the program and a second guitar is playing some pretty lead-lines (though again, could have been higher mixed). Finally the live drums have essentially edged out the programming and the snare's heavy reverberating thump is a great accompaniment to the piece. At one point I found myself wanting to sing something over this, or at least chant. Cube Abuse, the longest track clocking in at 16 minutes, begins with an abrasive grinding double-axe attack. But the bass on this number gets to stand right out front with the drums, helping this tune become the righteous foot-stompin' chugger that it be. There's less synth on this track, if any at all - these sounds could be fx'd guitar for all I know... definitely some sort of flange happening. With these being such long and skeletally repetitive tracks, one might be tempted to question if another element were needed, but there's just enough subtle shifting in the guitar and synth textures that Vert:x manages to pull it off. The final track Vertex #5 is only 2 minutes long, so it cuts right into raging space attack, lotsa wah and synth lashes are dealt out, the speediest tune on the album... but it's so brief compared to the gargantuosity of the other tracks, it seems more of an afterthought than anything. This would be a grand album for those that crave pure space-rock: they just need to tweak the levels a bit.
For more information you can visit the Vert:x web site at: http://www.myspace.com/vertx
Reviewed by Chuck Rosenberg