Album of the Week: VC-118A – Inside

For those that know, there’s a lot implied by Samuel Van Dijk’s artistic moniker, VC-118A. There’s something immediately familiar about the jumble of letters and numbers, as if you’ve seen then before in some other, but relative context. Re-ordering them, words like voltage control, amplifier, and noise appear in their diminutive form, drawing evocative associations with the world of modular synthesis.

For an artist like Van Dijk with a self-professed “modular approach to making and performing music” there’s that literal interpretation behind the name, but where modular synthesis will often conjure an image of an artist at a set of impossible controls, wilfully coaxing the strangest and abstract sounds form random bleeps and blobs in a self-indulgent, introspective performance spectacle, VC-118A (and Van Dijk’s various other monikers) presents a new generation of  artists harnessing the bold experiments of their predecessors into a more concise musical palette for dancing audiences.

Van Dijk has been doing this as VC-118A since 2012′ s “Informations Systems” on TRUST records, rewiring a sound built on the foundation of the Electro and Techno innovators in a modern sonic aesthetic. Channeling those random bleeps and blobs into space-aged melodic patterns that are both beatific and completely alien, VC-118A embarks on this third LP and his first for legendary Dutch label, Delsin.

“Inside” revels in a  miasmatic sonic soup of elongated synthetic pads, strange croaking squawks and deep hyper-gravitational bass forces, drawing you deep into midst of the arrangements, where we can discern a shadowy outline of the artist behind the music. Deep, Techno tracks like “Tide” and “Channel” congregate with salacious Electro pieces like “PCB” and “Glow” on “Insides” with a narrative arc reaching its highest peak at “Hiss.” But it’s the subversive charm of tracks like “Time Variant” and “Inside” that really draws the music together as an LP and offers something much more personal than what many artist working on this platform have achieved in the past.

Sub bass figures excavate a deep furrow, from where peculiar electronic sounds can gestate into bold melodic patterns on individual pieces which come together in a fine cinematic soundtrack across 13 tracks. Intrepid sound design and piercing melodic movements across these tracks create a bold artistic statement as he creates an album that harnesses the futuristic elements of the modular performance for a more palatable experience, both for and away from the dance floor. And although there are pieces with distinct designs, this is more than just a dance album, and needs to be appreciated in its entirety.

“Inside” is an album that draws the listener away from the cold sonic aesthetic of this style of electronic music. There’s still that disconnect between the artist and the music, but you get the sense that Van Dijk is aware of his audience and offers an enticing entry to into the abstract and stark artistic world of modular synthesis with the faint warm glow of the man behind the machine, adding a level of depth and warmth to the album.