Vasudeva – No Clearance

The ambient and lo-fi intro to the new Vasudeva record, No Clearance, gives way to a whirl of feedback before diving into the Minus the Bear-style instrumental rock of “Take Away”. It’s given to all of the positive aspects of the sort of danceable post-rock and at its outset avoids the pitfalls given to this.  The clean production highlights agile guitar lines over the top of a very solid rhythm section. The track hints at the kind of soaring highs the band are capable of. The “Whatever, bye” at the end of the track is a nice touch.

“Chase” is more dadaist in its approach of using space punctuated with notes instead of being an ethereal wall of sound or a danceable groove. This track breathes in such a way as to feel cinematic. At around 2:05 it begins to crescendo until around 2:30 only to devolve back into the spaciousness that the band thrives in from the start.

On “Doner” the band goes in a slightly trippier direction with some electronics, hand claps, and rimshots. The band’s vision starts to coalesce here as it becomes apparent that what we’re really listening to here is the soundtrack for a movie in our heads. The ability for an instrumental band to do that is largely the territory of artists such as sleepmakeswaves and Explosions in the Sky, among others, and while not quite there yet, the foundation is there in the early stages of this album.

The guitar work on “Slowboy”, particularly the main leitmotif riff, is highly reminiscent of the criminally underrated skills of Braid’s Bob Nanna. One of the marvelous things about this band is their sensibility for songcraft. They have the tendency to draw riffs to natural conclusions without belaboring the point. There’s a certain sense of economy in the grandiosity here.

“Turnstile” is a more groove-oriented direct take back in the MtB vein. A spiderweb of guitarlines criss-cross the midpoint of this song in a way that recalls the more technical aspects of Cap’n Jazz with a bit more precision. This track evokes wide open spaces one might drive through in the American Midwest. If you listen carefully you can almost hear some ‘90s Eric Johnson showing through as well.

After the noisy interlude of “Rough Tape” we have “Goner” which presents itself as a loop heavy trip not unlike something that could be dug out of a electronica band’s back catalog before giving way to a smoldering heap before reigniting on “6&5”. They bounce back to life on this track after the previous two songs provide enough incongruity to break up the sound of the album in a healthy way. Around 2:10 the band start into what might be their most aggressive spate of the album, culminating in a nice breakdown at the 2:40 mark, which the band eventually returns to in closing out the song.

The last two tracks, “CSPAN” and “Katy”, provide more examples of Vasudeva’s ability to write catchy soundtracks for any of your longhaul drives or indie dance parties. With this new release the band are staking a claim for bigger things and it will be interesting to see where it will take them. After listening to the latter track I, for one, would be intrigued to hear what it would sound like if Matt Bayles took this band into the studio. It may not be earth shattering but it is beastly tuneful, tight, and well memorable. The promise in the songs here belie a bright future for Vasudeva… and for people looking for songs that will keep them company long after that first listen.

Vasudeva’s new album, No Clearance, is out March 31st on Skeletal Lightning.