Country Music is an experimental album in the truest sense of the word: each track bursts with invention, bravery and confidence. Vision Fortune is a band unafraid to take the difficult road to success; a band willing to risk it all with an abrasive, layered, ultimately impressive sound. Country Music is not only an experiment then: it’s an experiment that pays off in droves.
There is an element of the soundscape to each of the tracks on Country Music: the songs build entire worlds, and score them with a sense of foreboding and dread. There’s an atmosphere to the album that is endlessly appealing: opener Blossom is a nightmarish trip into a devastated land that is both catchy and complex. But despite the ‘difficult’ elements of the record, it’s not one that pushes you away. With Country Music we’re not talking about an album that was ostensibly designed to turn people off– we’re talking about a record that has the listener’s best interests at heart, albeit in a slightly sinister way.
The overall tone of the album is one of grinding despair – tracks like Habitat and the six minute plus Back Crawl II that closes out the record build slowly, and their effect is both hypnotic and tortured. Habitat in particular draws a great deal of its success from artful repetition; the song whirrs and rattles like a machine breaking down. It’s a stellar track: after all, there has always been something utterly compelling about the music of the slowest sort of destruction.
Dry Mouth, Cleanliness and Ties And Bound provide more of the same in a way that feels streamlined and powerful rather than dull or mundane. With an artful hand, Vision Fortune ensure that Country Music has a singular tone or message, but they also manage to provide the listener with breathing room, and the space necessary to ensure the work is a masterfully controlled experience rather than a grueling slog.
Tracks like the electronica infused Tita and the ethereal Drunk Ghost have the same intent as the songs that make up the rest of the album, but they go about it a different way; they’re more mysterious, less grinding, but just as powerful. Indeed, the latter might be the standout of the album – it’s a whirling, demented track that swells with a creepy, insistent beauty.
And then there’s Broken Teeth, another flat out success; a song full of a terrifying, throbbing potential energy. It’s the sonic equivalent of a storm cloud about to break – ominous, threatening, and yet strangely beautiful in its horror.
Country Music might not be for everyone, and certainly won’t be the music to play at your next dinner party – unless that is, you have a habit of dining underneath the glow of a single naked lightbulb in your dank cellar. But it’s uncompromising sense of menace is what makes it so great. It is a demented, wailing success of an album; a triumph from beginning to end.