VLMV

Prog - - Limelight -

Slow-mo­tion pop-play­ing duo mak­ing beau­ti­ful, sound­track-like at­mo­spher­ics.

Life has an in­fi­nite ca­pac­ity to sur­prise us, though some sur­prises are more wel­come than oth­ers. When green-haired Fin­nish pop queen Alma went big, Pete Lam­brou and Ciaran Mo­ra­han, aka VLMV, had to act quickly. Un­til then, they had been known as ALMA. Tempt­ing as it might have been to pig­gy­back on Alma’s fame, Lam­brou achieved a cun­ning com­pro­mise: in­vert the let­ter­ing and keep the orig­i­nal pro­nun­ci­a­tion. “At ev­ery gig, we still get one person who asks us how we pro­nounce it,” he laughs wryly.

One of the plea­sures of chat­ting to Lam­brou is his abil­ity to bring hu­mour to this situation. VLMV have emerged from the world of post-rock, and as Lam­brou re­minds us,“The post-rock rule is al­ways four words for a band name, so I wanted to keep it at four let­ters.

The irony is that it was the one that we had to change.”

If Lam­brou and Mo­ra­han have post-rock her­itage – both have been in­volved with Codes In The Clouds – VLMV is a dif­fer­ent beast. Their sec­ond al­bum Stranded, Not Lost draws as much on am­bi­ent and clas­si­cal min­i­mal­ism as drone gui­tar. In­deed, Lam­brou says,“I don’t think [VLMV] is post-rock at all. We’re am­bi­ent-ish post-some­thing.” He pauses, then says: “I think we’re slow-mo­tion pop.”

If that’s a line cal­cu­lated to panic some prog fans, never fear. ‘Pop’, as Ev­ery­thing Ev­ery­thing have shown, can be ev­ery bit as prog as a para­did­dle, and the likes of Ju­lianna Bar­wick have demon­strated the power of slow-mo­tion pa­tience. Ev­ery mo­ment of Stranded… is con­sid­ered and beau­ti­ful, with Lam­brou’s voice of­fer­ing a high tenor that slides over strings and keys. “All of it,” he says, “is about be­ing pa­tient, and if you haven’t got that pa­tience, you’re not go­ing to like what we do.”

If VLMV are ‘pop’, they draw on Mo­ra­han and Lam­brou’s knowl­edge of pro­gres­sive al­ter­na­tive rock. Lam­brou says, “Prog is all about musicianship and a lot of peo­ple might think we just make slow stuff, but there’s a lot of thought and pre­ci­sion. We grew up on The Mars Volta and Ra­dio­head.”

This un­der­stand­ing of mu­sic-mak­ing plays out in a va­ri­ety of ways. “On this al­bum,” Lam­brou says, “I wanted more or­ches­tra or com­poser el­e­ments.

So, there’s a lot more pi­ano and much less gui­tar. In­stead of lay­er­ing with a loop sta­tion, I wrote a pi­ano piece and then added some strings.”

In short, as Lam­brou ex­plains, “I write stuff that is too nice and Mo­ra­han comes in and makes it much darker. He likes to play a drum stick on the gui­tar. He’s al­ways do­ing some­thing dark and droney.”

One of the strik­ing ef­fects of VLMV is that ev­ery song feels like it’s made for a noir-ish film sound­track. Lam­brou ad­mits, “Sound­tracks: it’s one of the goals,” and VLMV cer­tainly de­serve their chance. The al­bum is en­hanced by some guest work from Tom Hodge, who most re­cently com­posed the sound­track for McMafia. It’s a tes­ti­mony to VLMV’s qual­ity that they can at­tract the sup­port of mu­si­cians with this pro­file.

The fu­ture may well be pa­tient, quiet and beau­ti­ful for VLMV. Who knows what sur­prises lie ahead. But with mu­sic of this qual­ity, it will be ex­tra­or­di­nary if their au­di­ence doesn’t grow sig­nif­i­cantly. RM

“PROG IS

ALL ABOUT MUSICIANSHIP

AND A LOT OF PEO­PLE MIGHT THINK WE JUST MAKE SLOW STUFF, BUT THERE’S A LOT OF THOUGHT AND PRE­CI­SION.”

VLMV, L-R: PETE LAM­BROU, CIARAN MO­RA­HAN.

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