Words: James Frostick
Artist image: Nicole Reed
Naarm/Melbourne duo Vacuum sowed some sensational aural discord when they dropped their self-titled debut album through Heavy Machinery Records and It Records back in February. After letting our brains marinate in their brand of knotted industrial unce for just over a month, the duo is reaching out once more from the strobe and shadow to gift us with their self-directed and produced visual treatment for standout slice ‘I’ll Call You’ – an unsettling-yet-hypnotic montage that pairs perfectly with its sinisterly sneaking soundtrack.
It’s taken me a little bit of time to properly consume, digest and absorb everything about Vacuum’s new album. To approach it as a casual listening exercise is to grossly under-prepare (mentally) for the task. Not to say the album is a challenging listen – far from it. Andrea Blake (ASPS / Chrome Dome) and Jenny Branagan’s (NUN) blend of asperous industrial thump and unassailable club cool makes it one of the most singularly enlivening listens of the year to date – if suspense-inducing subterranean sound is your thing, that is. Palpitating, pulsing, pounding, prowling, primordial and passionate – I’ll scrape the bottom of the proverbial barrel and still be unable to succinctly summarise the record in a way that truly does it justice. This is why, I think, it’s taken me this long to get around to penning a sentence about it. Thankfully I’ve been compelled to pull my finger out, as the duo has a new video out today that adds a new dimension to the consumption experience.
The duo has produced and directed a clip for ‘I’ll Call You’, a particularly engrossing track from the album. Sonically, the combination of staunch rhythmic thud, skeletal rattle, seeping low-end buzz, slinking plinks, telephone dial, mesmerising vocals and what I can only describe as the sound of a sharp knife being brusquely unsheathed create a textured tapestry of noise. The visuals are similarly finely fabricated – the clip is saturated in style and suspense, yet is just as unsettling as the song it accompanies. Cuts of liminal spaces, Backrooms-like nooks and vague and mysterious rituals create a sense of unreality, though medical motifs (hospital waiting rooms, operating tables, condensation-drenched chairs, single-serve sugar packets, pills, flowers) paint a picture that’s coloured in grief. The vocal refrain “I’ll call you if anything changes” echoes throughout the track, conjuring up feelings of helplessness and idle waiting – passing time in brightly lit waiting rooms until we hear news, good or bad. It’s seriously stirring stuff – another indicator that Vacuum is on another level right now.
Watch the video here: