This week, when I haven’t been listening to 3TEETH on repeat, I’ve mostly been listening to a Spotify Playlist I made featuring Industrial from around 1990 to early 2000’s.
Not sure if I’m on some sort of trip down memory lane or whatever but it kind of feels fun to listen to stuff that meant so much to me back then that I thought it might be an interesting project to review those albums that made me the person that I am now. See if I hear them differently, or feel any differently about them over a decade later.
At the moment, my poor macbook is on its last legs and I don’t have a working CD drive on it. No problem – bound to be on spotify….and nope! or eMusic, or Bandcamp. It is on itunes but I try to avoid using itunes wherever possible, due to files being locked down so you can only play them on mac products; Not that that is a problem these days since mac now have my eternal soul for switching over to an iPhone. In my defence the phone was free (a present from the mothership) – I haven’t quite signed a faustian pact yet, although from where I’m sat I may as well have (iPad charging to the left of me, currently typing on a macbook, and my iPhone floating around somewhere in the vicinity!). Anyways, where did I find a copy of the album that I wanted to listen to? A playlist on youtube of all places!
First one for this project is VAST‘s self titled debut.
I can’t quite remember how this band came in to my life, but possibly through various message boards at the time. Message boards. Yeah. You remember those right? This will be late 90’s. I’m going to take a guess at being on the Orgymusic BBS as we didn’t always talk about those glorious electro industrial beauties (more on them in a couple of weeks) and I got in to a lot of bands through talking to people on there. VAST’s debut was 1998….1998….wait….that’s 16 years ago! Fuck me. I don’t feel old enough to be talking about albums that are 16 years old.
What was so special (and remains to this day) about this album? In 1998 I was 18 turning 19. In the UK there was a big thing for nu-metal, and I was in to the metal scene at home but screaming along to Korn shouting ‘get the fuck out of my face NOW’ seemed a little disingenuous. Sure there was still some of that hormonal angst thing that clicked with angry nu-metal, but what I wanted was something a little deeper than that, and VAST had it in bucket loads. Jon Crosby must have worked his way through some serious demons on this album. There’s songs relating to relationships, belief in some sort of higher power, his place in the world, love, hate, but it wasn’t ever shouted about. It was a much more measured response than outright rage – but dear god this album has its moments of genuine creepiness; ‘Pretty When You Cry’ as a prime example.
It isn’t all sinister, brooding creepiness. A lot of it is, but the opening bars of ‘Here’ seem almost heavenly – it has this driving rhythm and it still lifts you above whilst being contemplative. There is an overly heavy interest in religion on this album which never really bothered me at the time, but seems much more obvious to me now. Nothing against religion (Ex choirgirl here, christened and confirmed – although no longer practicing) but sometimes I find people exploring their religious views in music a little much to take as exploring faith is such a personal thing – or should be – and I don’t really want to think about religion but hell, if you want something out of your head and want to work through your issues why not do it on an album?
Flames. One of those songs that at 18 was the most perfectly sexy and romantic of songs. The sort of song you wanted to fall in love to. You wanted someone to write something like that for you. Now it makes me wince a little bit! It’s lovely in its own way, and I can see why 18 year old me loved it, but 34 year old me has been through relationships that may have made me question the very nature of the existence of love and romance, so perhaps I am overly cynical these days to listen to this song which is a shame. I think it would be nice to listen to that again and see it as 18 year old me would.
After ‘Flames’ the album gets distinctly more rock, ‘Temptation’ is one of my favourite tracks on the entire album (besides ‘Here’….which I’ve just remembered I first heard on a cover CD from Rock Sound magazine). I like lyrics that rile up the wrong in my world – stuff that makes me want to go against real life. Where you know something or someone is wrong but you go after it anyway. Hell, this song could be about most of my 20s 🙂 ‘The Niles Edge’ explores Daddy issues, and ‘You’ was a track I never really got relating a relationship to a heaven on earth sort of scenario? but I did like the music even if the lyrics confused me a tad.
Overall VAST still mean a lot to me to this day. I have their symbols tattooed on the back of my neck and I’m never going to remove them. When an album clicks for you so much that you need a representation of it on your body that would suggest a certain something. It’s varied, explored themes at the time that I never gave much thought to – it was an album that I could grow up with at a time when lyrics seemed so determined to keep me an angry teenager which wasn’t me. It opened my world to so much other music and definitely paved my way in to looking in to industrial further. VAST may not be the most industrial of bands but there are elements there that i followed to more bands that were obviously so. And yes, there may be certain tracks I have issue with now, but there is no denying this albums place in my life. I may not be up to date with Jon’s music now, but I thank him profusely for creating VAST and will listen to this for many years to come.