For a while there Vaura felt a bit like a shooting star: four members of the NYC community combining forces to create a wonderful new project that didn't feel like a grandiose ego push-pull, but an actual meeting of the minds in service of song.
After six years away, the band — Josh Strawn (Azar Swan) on vocals, guitar and synthesizers, Kevin Hufnagel (Gorguts, Dysrhythmia) on guitar, Toby Driver (Kayo Dot) on bass, and Charlie Schmid (Tombs) on drums and electronics — is finally back with a new effort with Sables (due via Profound Lore on April 26th). The lead single is "Basilisk - The Infinite Corpse," a track that owes more to Eighties goth and New Romantic than it does towards the frost-britten black metal godfathers, and thankfully so. Mixing ethereal keyboards, clean vocals and a penchant for pop songwriting, "Basilisk" is eons past the worlds explored on their debut Senelion yet also right around the corner: Vaura has always been concerned with the beautiful edges of dream pop, shoegaze and other psychedelic influences that lend itself towards the darkness and those genres related. Check it out above for the first time, and order yours via Profound Lore.
Below, read Vaura front man Josh Strawn's statement about the track, including its relation to late singer Scott Walker:
"Scott Walker's voice and sensibility have been oversized in my head since my good friend and bandmate Jeremy Kolosine played me Tilt one winter night after band practice in a parking lot in the late 90s. I think I'm still in some denial about the idea that he's no longer with us, but I'm not in denial about the influence he's had on everything I've done. Scott was the kind of artist you could almost get away with just trying shamelessly to emulate because you knew you'd never actually get near where he was.
"He said once in a Quietus interview that he and Peter Walsh, who was generous enough to lend his talents to making this record, had developed a sound that was an aural version of Giger's drawings for Alien. Even though I didn't actually see the film until after the record was almost finished, there's probably no image that reflects the mood of Sables for me better than the scene in Alien: Covenant when the crew is walking through the ruins of a plaza where all the beings have been annihilated and their corpses frozen in time in the moment of dying. If you're tapped into the themes of those films, that sequence is deeply unnerving. It's like a planetary-scale Pompeii, but there was agency behind it.
"I was really feeling that cosmic horror while writing this record. The last song on the album speaks from a voice that's either at the end or after the end of the human timeline, and 'Basilisk' is the next to the last. Something is ending, but something inhuman may be surviving. You can take 'inhuman' in that context literally or more philosophically. I'm not committed to either reading of this record, in fact it's the ambiguity that I'm most invested in.
"I always related very much to how cinematic Scott Walker's records are. I have always found that when trying to explain Vaura records, they're like films to me. I was trying to capture a kind of despair, an emptiness, an ominous quiet that suggests a disappearance. The nightmare visions that inspired Sables are simultaneously of an omnicide, and of an end to humanity while human beings still continue to exist materially. Humanity being the word we tend to use to refer to our kindness, our ability to understand one another and allow for the existence of others, our ability to be graceful and make peace.
"On a song like 'Basilisk' I feel like I was almost trying to imagine what a connective tissue between 'Climate of Hunter and Tilt might have sounded like. The record in-between that never was. Like what if the intro to 'The Man From Reno' departed from those ambient synth pads into the realms of 'See You Don't Bump His Head,' and 'The Cockfighter.' I even remember when Toby made those strange wailing noises with his bass thinking of that creepy animalistic screech on 'Jolson and Jones.' For me those records really are what other artists say Pet Sounds or Sgt. Pepper were to them, they're like endless blueprints. They're the keys to a wondrous subterranean kingdom. I can recall several times telling friends that I'd probably turn down the chance to meet Scott Walker partly because I just wouldn't know what to say. But I think 'Thanks for the blueprints' would have been most in order."