|Album Review: Vanessa Worm—Vanessa 77|
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A Dionysian ritual of ancient Greece uses music and dance to free an individual from the shackles of social restraint and inhibition. Such liberated release is accomplished in Vanessa Worm's debut album Vanessa 77, released via Glasgow's Optimo Music. In 10 tracks, New Zealand's most electrifying new talent moves through hate-rock to post-punk electronica in an anarchic farrago of style. As such, the practice of genre convention is superfluous when defining this genre-bending artist.
The third track "Bones and Blood" signifies the shift from ambient experimental to more dance-oriented music, which is how Worm originally envisioned Vanessa 77. She comments:
"I thought I wanted to make a dance record similar to the EP, so I spent a few months trying to recreate something like that but it never worked. Then I pushed my creative boundaries. It was when my partner went back to New Zealand [that I created this album], which was the first time in a year and a half being on my own. Prior to that I had a lot of fear regarding my music and regarding my creativity; I found it quite challenging to create when I was around people so often.
Having the chance to be alone gave me the time to break through those fears and figure out what they were. I also had time to figure out where I wanted to take myself creatively, and who I was as a musician. It was a huge time of getting to learn more about myself".
In the following tracks including "Heaven to Hell", "Cord Hard Blues" and "In Heaven We Are", Worm's unique sound mystifies in its enthralling delivery. Such is the unique sound that has kept eager punters on their toes waiting for her next release. Her enraged vocals are met with VST-produced croaky melodies, razor sharp breaks and a pounding kick-drum. In "Heaven to Hell" her witch-like vocals yell "Where is my...?" We can only imagine the unfinished ending is an unconscious salute to The Pixies infamous "Where Is My Mind?"
The breadth of Worm's influences is felt in full force throughout the album. Interestingly, Worm describes her influences at all stages of her life to have influenced her current miasma of post-punk fire. She mentions her pop obsession as a child, love for indie-rock and punk in high school and affinity for house music and the electronic world discovered later on. However, she considers it vital to not stick to one sound or idea. She explains, "If I go into making a song and have a sound in mind, it never works out. I have to allow myself to be completely expressive, otherwise it bungs itself out".
While she falters before a stringent concept, Worm celebrates focusing on one particular type of instrumentation. She describes that "a new instrument tends to fall into my lap. For the first EP it was the micro organ and for this one it's guitar. I am inspired by that one thing". The ascendance of electric guitar in the creation of Vanessa 77 is omnipotent. Clearly, in the last track "Cave of Creation", distorted electric guitar reverberates with heavy delay, in a post-punk soundscape comparable to the drowsy guitar of Mansur Brown.
While it's unlikely that music-lovers outside of New Zealand will be able to see Worm's live set for some time, there is something to be said about the ethos from which she approaches her projects. Evidently, Worm says about live performances : "it's about expressing ourselves as a community... the whole point is to let myself go completely to let others feel like they can do the same". An ethos creatives should make haste to emulate. In all, Vanessa 77 is a ticket renouncing freedom from social contracts to embark on a process of self-understanding, renewal and rebirth.
Vanessa 77 is available to download or stream here