Book Of Illusions: Chapter I

VLE - Book Of Illusions: Chapter I ©2001 Self-Released
1. Kano
2. Freedom To Fly
3. Behold The Night/Beyond Sunsets
4. Timeless
5. 3 In 5
6. Drift
7. Stark

VLE is an atmospheric solo project out of New York, combining the broader elements of experimental noise with trance-inducing rock and metal riffing. While the presentation is pretty rough (many of the tracks were pulled directly off of mp3.com), the compositions themselves have an interesting, sometimes resounding quality, with densely layered guitar and keyboard ambiance moving mechanically forward with a gearbox repetition. The overall effect is a vast, amorphous canopy of noise tethered to a rigid percussive march. The vocals are incredibly subdued, coming in way of largely sublimated growls and whispers. There are some elements that many listeners will find slightly familiar, with traces of the more metallic Nephilim, ambient shoegazer fare (with hints of Closedown and Slowdive), and noise rock reminiscent of Sonic Youth all coming into play. Not that any of these comparisons hold much weight, since the bulk of VLE's output is very much VLE's, with a sound that is very much its own beast.

There are some quibbles I have with the material. The songs often end abruptly as though the tape ran out (fades and simple dissipation would lend the release far more coherence), and the compositions are often a tad too lumbering in their wall-of-sound approach. For an introductory self-release, Book of Illusions is a nice atmospheric jaunt around the block, and occasionally genuinely moving. While the pickiest of music fans might want to wait for future releases, I think anyone looking for something interesting on a budget should definitely give it a listen, as there are nice chunks of profundity floating in the stew of white noise.

Review by James Slone

Review date: 01/2002

Back to top 

Book Of Illusions: Chapter III

VLE - Book Of Illusions: Chapter III ©2003 Self-Released
1. Kano
2. The Arrival
3. Crimson
4. ...of Woods And Water
5. Ancient Song Set Ablaze
6. Diana's Rebirth
7. Now You Cry
8. Fornever
9. The Surest Path
10. I Will Return

Book of Illusions Chapter III is the latest part in the ongoing VLE adventure, a musical exploration with an increasingly polished and sophisticated approach to the outlying ambient territory of metal. The hypnotic trance of Burzum is joined with shoegaze guitar noise, layered neo-folk, and drifting beats. One shouldn't be put off by the limited distribution or minimalist layout. The music here is impossibly rich; warm, soothing, a blanket of noise with a mellow production complimentary to the designs of the music, which aims to subdue and seduce the listener. In a way Chapter III points at a new direction for metal music, one of textured comfort, minimalist and thoughtful, a gray zone between Slowdive and Summoning. If doom metal calls on the listener to retreat into melancholy, VLE calls on gentle introspection without all the melodramatic fuss. The sound is simple to describe but impossible to express. The beats are repetitive, the compositions simple but layered, the guitar sound ranging from clean and crisp to muddy, finding a delicate balance between a vacuum cleaner and cascading strumming. Subdued growls and clean effeminate voices call out with elegiac solemnity or, more often than not, are simply content to hide in the music. It's simple and doesn't demand much but patience and empathy. Icily pretty and gradually enticing, Chapter III is a nearly revolutionary act in metal. The blockhead pretensions are simply left on the cutting room floor and the listener is left with ambient metal that is simply elegant. No theatricality, no bombast, just something frail and reassuringly beautiful.

Review by James Slone

Review date: 10/2003

Back to top