Vasudeva have always been hard to pigeonhole. Growing up on the quieter streets of New Jersey, but with New York City just moments away, childhood friends Corey Mastrangelo (guitar), Grant Mayer (guitar/keys) and Derek Broomhead (drums) would spend their summer days running from punk shows to late night raves, living a dichotomous life that wormed its way into their music.
Forever too dancey for their post-rock peers, but too post-rock for their dance music friends, Vasudeva’s career to date has been spent on a tightrope, the tension between walking that fine line adding an angst to their soaring tracks. On their new record,Generator, however, things are different. There is a sense of peace and assuredness to the New Jersey trio – no longer three kids in their early-twenties trying to find their way, it feels like Vasudeva have finally found what they were searching for.
A seamless and soaring record,Generator sees Vasudeva truly completely comfortable in their own skin for what feels like the first time. Written, produced and engineered by the band over the course of three months in early spring with the help of their long-time friend Kevin Dye, it is an entirely personal, (almost) chronological time capsule of the band as they entered their late twenties; growing and evolving as people, their music following suit. There is a sense of a new beginning, a new chapter. Using Logic Pro X for the first time, Mastrangelo, Mayer and Broomhead were, for the first time, able to tap into their wide, varied set of influences; exploring textures, using midi and incorporating drum machines and synth sounds that they first fell in love with through their affinity for dance music.
Harnessing electronic drums and voice notes recorded by Mayer when commuting in New York City, using real keys and reel-to-reel tape machines,Generator masterfully blends the analog and the electronic. “Stockmar” sees Vasudeva at their most R’n’B inspired, the slowest track on the album showcasing their growth, yet named after Broomhead’s childhood street where the band spent endless amounts of time growing up. Things change, but they are always rooted in the past.
The record is undeniably textured, layers of instruments complimenting each other – nylon strings piggybacking off piano chords in “Drop”, programmed bass sitting atop Broomhead’s ever fidgeting drums in “Yamaha”. Everything has its place, but nothing feels regimented. It’s a free-flowing feeling, a structured emotion.
There is an overwhelming emotional quality to the music Vasudeva creates, and inGenerator this voice is at its strongest. While there are still the walls of sound that featured in previous worksLife In Cycles andNo Clearance (the ending of opener “Breaks” threatens to blow any speaker it is played through, and the breakdown in “III” provides one ofGenerators loudest moments), there is a much clearer focus on production, on texture, on feeling in this record. The SP-404 created “Only On” leaves you swirling and shifting as the EQ pans back and forth, creating a truly unique listening experience, transporting you underwater.
Obsessed with this level of production,Generator speaks to the notion of technology pushing Vasudeva forward in their everyday lives. Idle or not, we must push on. There is an overwhelming sense of calm toGenerator, the landscape created by Mastrangelo, Mayer and Broomhead enveloping and swaddling the listener, the music ebbing and flowing, creating worlds while saying nothing at all. – Conor Mackie