London’s Vision Fortune are a band who are resolutely anti-image. Indeed, they are resolutely anti any outdated notion of rock ‘n’ roll or what it means to be a band working in what can loosely be defined as the music industry. Instead, Vision Fortune are a band compelled to make music. There is no aesthetic. There are no pretences. There is no image. Instead, there is the astonishing music collected on their debut album Mas Fiestas Con El Grupo.
For Vision Fortune, the trio of brothers Austin and Alex Peru along with Andreas Cuatroquesos, all meaning in their music is conveyed by their enveloping washes of sound. The album is described as being loosely based on John Kay’s Parable Of The Ox. The allegorical themes of this story of the titular Ox’s life and death are represented in the coursing music, which is at times harsh and aggressive, and at others desolate and foreboding. Lyrics and vocals are few and far between; when a voice is present, it is used judiciously, appearing distant and disconnected. The voice is often expressionless while the music swirls up and surrounds it.
The album itself is less of a collection of songs than one long continuous piece. Roman numerals are used for each title, importantly not in any sort of order. This all adds to the intriguingly allusive quality of their music. Throughout there is an excellent economy of sound. At no point does it ever sound excessive.
While a traditional band format is employed, where Vision Fortune succeeds is in making their repetitive, hypnotic rhythms sound quite unlike the traditional. On a piece like the deeply ominous eight-minute drone of XVI, it goes beyond any sort of trite musical definition into something altogether deeper, mysterious and affecting. It’s the sort of music that leaves you transfixed and enraptured. You may not even be entirely enjoying it but you absolutely cannot turn it off.
Vision Fortune’s music is a mix between post punk’s questing desire to subvert and confuse and an appreciation of ambient, electronic based soundscapes. On XIV both facets meet wonderfully; jittery clipped guitar sounds and a diverting groove meet with a looming overarching synth line. Elsewhere, songs lurch into view over rumbling and juddering drum patterns. The noise of fractured distortion and effects is beautifully measured, almost oceanic in quality as the music swells, rises and recedes. By the time we get to the penultimate track SV, the music sounds as if it is in half speed slow motion as it churns and lurches menacingly.
It’s abundantly clear that Vision Fortune are a band completely attuned to what they are doing and the music they want to make. They appear to revel in its obliqueness, which extends to the album title and the self designed artwork depicting an incongruous image of a besuited Mariachi trio. Mas Fiestas… is certainly not an easy listen, but it is endlessly rewarding. Each listen provides a new sound and a different perspective.
Importantly, the album is definitely not a shoddily recorded lo-fi record. The sound is excellent throughout. Recorded by the band themselves and mixed by MJ from Hookworms, it is a stellar example of a new band making arresting and alluring music on strictly their own terms.