The VSS - Nervous Circuits
I have a ton of records that I adore where I have never even met another person who owns it. This is one of them. Nervous Circuits came out in 1997 on HoneyBear records. It has been out of print since then, but I hear they may be re-releasing it. If they do, go buy it immediately. Don't wait, don't consider, just buy, STAT!
Let me tell ya about the VSS. I originally checked them out because I loved the guitar player's previous band, Angel Hair. Bands like Angel Hair, Heroin, Antioch Arrow, Clikitat Ikatowi, and the whole San Diego chaos noise hardcore scene from the mid 90s have a special place in my heart. (however that is a whole 'nother series of posts.) When I heard the VSS my first thought was "Keyboards?" I was a hardcore kid and keyboards were for pussies. Angel Hair certainly never had keyboards. Once I was able to wrap my little mind around that concept, I found an album that totally blew me away.
If you haven't heard the VSS, you are wondering what they sound like. Take one part San Diego screamo hardcore, one part goth, one part ass kicking grooves, and add about 100 parts of sonic nihilism and that might be close. Never before has a band created a sound so cold, so dirty, yet so humanistic. They sound very futuristic with a super creepy detatched vibe that is full of sexy and violent energy. Imagine a world of the future where man and machine are inseperably intertwined, but neither side is comfortable with it. They sound to me like the movie Blade Runner looks. Bright and dreary, futuristic and atavistic. Really great stuff. You've probably never heard it, so please go to the link below for three songs on their Myspace page. Why a band who hasn't been around for 10 years has a Myspace page, I'll never know, but hey, it's keeping their music alive.
The bands members went on to other bands who I also recommend. All of them but the singer started a band called the Slaves, but they had to change their name for legal reasons and became Pleasure Forever. They put a few albums, all of which kicked ass. They kind of worked in a similar vein as the VSS, but instead of sounding futuristic, they incoporated lots of piano for a eerie baroque style of post-hardcore. Cool as hell. The singer formed another band called Year Future who sounded a little more like the VSS.
One last thing. I got to see the VSS live in probably 96 or 97 in this art space in Memphis, Tennessee. The crowd was around one hundred and I stood about two feet in front of them as they played. They did two things that I had never seen before and haven't seen since. First, the bass player played the keyboards. And I don't mean he played bass on some songs and keys on others. He played both at the same time. Second, the singer had a board in front of him where he controled the lights show as the band played. They had huge banks of all different colored lights and he was constantly changing the color, intensity, and rythym of them to match the music. Really cool. Good times.