Album Review: Viscula – IV

IV is the experimental, instrumental new album from London-based Ukrainian band Viscula. Uniquely recorded, with four musicians organically laying down their parts without overlays, it proved an intriguing prospect. Here are my thoughts.

By Graeme Smith

The album opens with isolated bass courtesy of legendary Soviet and Russian bassist Alexander Titov. His playing is expressive and provides a surprising amount of narrative from an instrument more conventionally known for providing rhythm. Drums, percussion and guitar join in during opening vignette Intro.

But the album’s story starts properly with track two Seagulls, a hazy, psychedelic journey by air and by sea. Guitar provides the melody while keys and percussion create the ambiance. Instrumental music can often be limited by its need to tell a tale without words but when done right it can say more than any set of lyrics. In Seagulls, it’s done right.

Up next is Heartwell. It’s drums that take the spotlight in its opening before a bass groove kicks in. Things are punctuated with flashy, sci-fi keys but its the groove that really makes the track. It will have you nodding your head in appreciation.

The first half of the album is finished off by Grey. It starts as an intimate piece of noodling but gradually builds into something that is as uplifting as it is atmospheric. It shows a completely different side to Viscula’s rock sound.

And the unexpectedness continues into Rhumba, drawing on the classic dance style but modernising it. The result is upbeat, if not a little disconcerting, perhaps because of its use of horror-drama organ. The organ’s meandering melody here is an album highlight.

The horror atmosphere continues into Plague. With an arrangement that rises in waves, and spoken word vocal samples, it feels a little post-rock. Unlike most post-rock though, it wastes no time getting its message across, delivering the track’s whole story in just over two minutes.

Love Is Hard comes next, a slow, philosophical number full of echoing guitar before IV reaches its conclusion through the lively Bad Decision. With acoustic guitar as its focus, it provides yet another twist in Viscula’s sound, just as you think you’ve got a handle on it. It’s the perfect way to finish this inventive and trailblazing album.

IV is a great introduction to Viscula’s sound for me. I love music that’s not afraid to try something different and that walks to the beat of its own drum. This album definitely fits the bill. You can check it out below.