Album Review: Stranded Not Lost by VLMV
by Alice Lacey.
VLMV’s origins date back to 2015, when songwriter and ex-Codes in the Clouds/Monster’s Build Mean Robot’s Pete Lambrou joined forces with fellow Code in The Cloud-ster, Ciaran Morahan, to create an act which has been quite rightly described by the likes of Lauren Laverne as “a beam of light through a dark, cold night”. Following the release of their mini self-titled debut in 2016, they have since earned themselves comparisons with such goliaths of the post-rock/ambient scene as Sigur Ros, Olafur Arnalds and Explosions in the Sky.
"Stranded Not Lost’s humble majesty is made clear within seconds."
OTB’s last encounter with VLMV occurred, quite aptly, on a frost bitten evening in November last year, when the moon and stars shone like beacons in the leaden sky, making even The Fleece seem (momentarily) like a haven for all that was good, and comforting in the world. Whilst predominantly we were there to see the enigmatic headliners, Nordic Giants, VLMV (supporting) brought forth a set of delicately shimmering, expansive songs that left us wanting oh so much more. Thankfully, with the forthcoming release of VLMV’s second album, our wish has finally been granted.
Indeed, Stranded Not Lost’s humble majesty is made clear within seconds. Using only a few simple piano notes, strings and delay pedals, opener ‘He has already divided us’ establishes the over-arching tone of the album, one of contemplative earnestness, perfectly.
‘If only’ then introduces Lambrou’s ethereal vocals for the first time, and it is this track, coupled with ‘All These Ghosts’ and ‘Stranded Not Lost’ which stand as the record’s shining, most hopeful, epicentres. Through the use of delay pedals, loop effects, warm strings and Morahan’s guitar bowing, these songs are rapturous, twinkling soundscapes, that would sound solemn and pensive if it weren’t for Lambrou’s trembling voice and soaring sustained notes that incline majestically toward the end.
Other tracks, such as the haunting ‘Among My Quietest Fears’ ‘Lunokhod’ and ‘Our Corners’ veer more towards post-classical/minimalist territory - evoking the emotional shading of Max Richter and Johann Johannsson - but at the same time steadily growing into a sound that is VLMV’s own. Within these tracks, with their piano and violin figures that hang in space like clouds of shifting sound, lies such palpable sadness that you are left feeling somewhat bereft when they end. You cannot help to wonder whether the whole album is essentially, a fruitless search for solace, or an answer to something that cannot be found.
This is not, however, an album to be dissected and to do so would be an error of judgement. The tracks flow one into the next, which accentuates the connections between them and makes Stranded Not Lost feel like a single, cohesive piece, carefully mapping every inch of it’s terrain.
Essentially, this is music for long, wistful, train journeys, the stillness of a Sunday afternoon, and for all those dark winter mornings where you feel a little alone in the world. Quiet, peaceful and ultimately perfect.
Stranded Not Lost is out on 16 February 2018 (via Fierce Panda and Too Many Fire Works) and is a record worthy of investment.
Make sure to follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and keep an eye on their website for upcoming tour dates.
Photo credit: Darren Rye