Sirr Records / SIRR2001MCD
Paulo Raposo, Carlos Santos /composition
Much as they may sound like a lippy punk band, Vitriol in fact make atmospheric, even sometimes ambient electronic music. This EP presents three pieces, plus two short extras. The music is well-realised, very abstract but ultimately tied closely to the traditions of environmental recordings and sound design.
That’s not to say that these are more mood pieces than musical artefacts, however. Far from attempting to create acousmatic background sounds, Raposo and Santos approach what they do with a definite sense of musical drama, slowly dripping sounds into big, reverberating atmospheres.
The main piece here is the eight-minute title track, which throbs with that familiar engine-room ambiance. This particular room, however, is inhabited by a selection of unnerving sounds, the sounds of skittish half-glimpsed things, part insect and part static eletricity, and the sonar pings which one can imagine seeking them out.
Of course, this sound-world will be familiar to many listeners, but it’s all too easy to go from this to a value judgement. The sound-world of most jazz records is just as “hackneyed”; the fact is, it’s what you do with it that counts, and Vitriol make very involving music with these materials. God knows it’s easy to employ the same things to tedious ends.
The other two pieces of reasonable length (both around four and a half minutes) explore similar areas. “Durriyyatun” is a good companion piece to the title track, subtler, more slow-moving and in this writer’s opinion the best track here. “Ropica Pnefma”, as its name sort of implies, brings some of the rainforest into Vitriol’s very digital world, but it’s the grain and pace of the sounds they’re interested in, not their imitation.
This is a strong release from Vitriol. Mercifully parsimonious (this kind of music can be hard to digest over an hour or more on CD), it presents a concentrated view of their musical style and leaves one wanting to hear more. Richard Cochrane