Vibracathedral Orchestra – Joya Baka

5 out of 5

Label: VHF

Produced by: Vibracathedral Orchestra (?)

An interestingly restrained set of pieces from Vibracthedral Orchestra, which make a wonderful kind of sense not only when considered as part of a trio of releases, but – more importantly – internally to the Joya Baka experience, with the group ebbing away at relatively short drone pieces until we get to our B-side concluder: epic 15 minute psych, freaky freaker Raag Alap IV.

It requires a whole listen, though: initially, the 5 pieces that form the A-side feel like they’re building to something that doesn’t arrive. Tracks feed into one another suggestively, and by third track Es Inacceptable Para Mi – interestingly named, in retrospect – you’re expecting the group to break into something more dynamic, but instead, they hold back. The mood does settle, though: followup Rich Witch is woozy, folky – campfire stuff – and though there’s still the niggling thought that you’re “owed” flashier releases of instrumental clashing, the mood is engrossing. It’s confident stuff. A-side concludes with Natterjack, which starts to bring in a more familiar sense of clatter, though muted. For a VO / Sunroof! fan, this is fantastic stuff, squiggly and noisy but also somehow beautiful; if the whole album were this A-side, it’d still be quite brilliant, just perhaps lacking an ultimate “point.”

Which arrives with Raag Alap. Raag Alap is the leash taken off, though still effected with patience. The track moves in waves of distorted grandeur, bring back that sense of buildup offered in the first couple songs on the A-side and mapping them to the larger, improv-y picture VO can paint. The track keeps working this momentum for 10+ minutes, and then suddenly cuts to smaller vignettes. Sometimes I might criticize such structure as disruptive, but here, it achieves a desired effect of a cooldown: the song has hit its peak and it’s just done, and then we’re left with passing thoughts for the next few minutes… The production of Raag Alap also really highlights the impact: the forefront layer keeps sounding like it’s almost clipping, but the other layers maintain a “rhythm” throughout. It’s a grand closer, and definitely puts a cap on all of Joya Baka, making it something that gets more rewarding the more you listen to it as a whole.