CD REVIEW: Virtual Humans - Transcend
By: Zach Kiley
Weakness: Lyrical content, sometime disappointing song build-up
Virtual Humans is a 4 piece band from Brazil. They classify themselves as Pop Rock, but wish not to limit themselves to that genre. There new CD, titled “Transcend” is a 6 track exploration and pushing of what the pop rock genre really is. They have been an active member of MySpace music since March of 2009 and have their own website.
The first and most striking quality of the album is that as soon as you feel a song build up into what would be a big chorus, it actually throws you for a loop and is much more subdued than you’d expect. I would treat this as a strength and a weakness as such songs as Transcend (Part Three) build up nicely but never deliver. On the flip side, songs such as Extremes and Transcend (Part Two) do this very nicely. Their unique style of acoustic guitar with distorted electric backing is prominent on every song and the bass and drums together provide the energetic (albeit only sometimes) drive. The lyrical style feels like a free-style poem with a melodic tone. At points, the vocals are lost in the mix (ex. Transcend [Part 2]), as if the focus was to drive the electric guitar and not the vocals. Although it is hard at points to call their sound Pop Rock (sounding more like mellow rock), the shining example of Virtual Human’s craft is Extremes. While the lyrics are sometimes not fully understandable, the vibe and sound definitely leads to a nice mainstream sound, almost sounding like old Nine Inch Nails. The album packaging is professional, the art style is minimalist but effective and all 4 musicians in the band have a very tight sense of timing which makes me feel like these guys didn’t just get together and throw this album together.
Although I mentioned that sometimes the lack of a song getting “big” is unique, I have to point out that sometimes when I wanted to hear a song in full at the chorus, the lack of that big chorus sound was disappointing. I wanted to be driven at some songs (notably Transcend [Part Three] and Transcend [Part One]) but found myself feeling that the anti-climactic buildup hindered the song. Out of the 6 songs on the CD, only the first one (Trajectory) had what I would call “Radio Appeal” in that it was easily the most structured song on the album. At points, the singer’s vocals were completely lost in the mix, making it difficult to pick out what exactly was being sung. Finally, sometimes the simplicity of the bass line, with it’s standard leigth notes on the root note was a bit overwhelming at points and stood out too much from the rest of the mix
Overall, this is a truly unique album, breaking some of the modern day trends in musical structure, but ultimately falling just short of greatness. While the unique sound is at times energetic and driving, it is the few times that it isn’t driving, that is the most disappointing part. If Virtual Humans can refine their sound, clean up the lyrical content, (It's a life without destiny and accomplishments/The introspect serves the extrospect ……. What?!!?) and truly latch on to the direction the band wants to go, I believe that Virtual Humans could be the next band that people start saying “Hey, have you heard about these guys yet? They’re awesome!”
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