5 out of 5
Label: Important Records
Produced by: Vibracathedral Orchestra (?)
Released as separate 7″ singles, then remixed together – as it was apparently always intended to be – as a full album, Tuning to the Rooster is, intriguingly, one of VO’s most accessible and seamless sets, making the process of initially divvying the tracks up an interesting experiment: how the tracks work in isolation versus together.
I can’t speak to the former, having first heard them in this context, which makes it almost impossible to imagine the songs otherwise, as the whole experience slides together and makes each song a preparation for the next, as well as a reaction to / reflection upon the previous, further cementer by the way the album loops so perfectly, opener Baptism > Bar > Blues’ clatter an excellent jumpstart at the end of Girls With Rocks in their Hands’ psychedelic stomp. That tag – psych – is still the name of the game on Rooster, though the instrumental spread and recording here puts forward less of the VO drone / noise and moreso allows individual elements to be a focus: percussion and drums on Baptism; strings a big component of the contemplative, comparatively quiet Wearing Clothes of Ash, and a steady beat pushing Stole Some Sentimental Journey and Girls towards post-rock instrumentalism. The band can have a hippy-dippy vibe at times, owing to their improv style and their general genre, but Rooster focuses all of that: even with 12- or 14- or 17-minute songs, that album feels very composed and purposeful.
It’s gorgeous, and loud, and unmistakably VO. It’s also rather helpfully streamlined, with recognizable and very distinct melodies but enough variation such that those long-running songs are never a bore. A must-own for fans of the band, and an easy, unintimidating go-to as a way to introduce people to the breadth of their sound.