The Virgance is the project of a Brit named Nathan Smith. This is his third album in the past few years, so the man is productive. He is from Colchester and apparently was in a band there named Ripley. I canít find any info about that band because the name is too common to Google, so whatever.
On his own, Smith makes instrumental shoegaze. I hear Yellow 6, Paik, Manual, SIANspheric, Bethany Curve, and Auburn Lull all swirled together here. The songs vary between ambient hazes and catchy grooves.
25 Years kicks off the record with a haze of echoed guitar, very Auburn Lull, with a martial beat half-buried in the echoing guitar. The drum eventually gets a little louder, with long slow beats and echoing cymbal crashes that fit along well with the mellow groove of the guitar. The whole thing kind of gets louder and a little faster, the drum kicking it up a notch, and suddenly we are in Epiphony. It's kind of like the first song, only on espresso.
That epic drone finally fades out and is replaced by a strange noise. I think it is some kind of crowd noise, or several records of voices played at the same time, or maybe seagulls -- it's hard to be sure. Over this, Smith layers some very slow echoed guitar. The song is Sequester and is like SIANspheric at their most lethargic: the guitar echoed and distorted into long droning notes while the drums thud away slowly. Lovely and relaxing.
Smith gets his groove on for Moonolog. A fast drum beat and a deep bass riff drive things along, as his guitar grinds and echoes. This reminds me a lot of Paik, and that is a good thing.
It's back to the slow, droning, meandering tunes for Saturnine, which starts off with a really great drum part, the drummer (Smith?) just pounding the kit. Slowly the guitar drone wells up, almost burying the drums. Very nicely done.
The next track, Down the River is a collaboration with Canadian-Ukrainian band Ummagma. Shauna McLarnon adds some faint vocals, just sounds really, far in the background under the guitar haze, and there is a wonderful bass riff powering through the ambience. This is pretty cool, and makes me want to hear more from Ummagma.
Dissipate is aah-ing synths that fade into a grinding guitar drone. And finally we end with No Return. This tune starts with a sound like an explosion then becomes some nice echoed strummed guitar and those aah-ing synths from the previous tune.
And finally we wrap things up with No Return, a seven minute track of throbbing synths and washed out guitar ambience, the whole record just kind of fading out, which is pretty appropriate.
I have to admit that i am pretty impressed here. I like what Smith is doing. The has that sort of fuzzy ambience that i like, and yet at times it gets pretty intense. If you enjoy shoegaze and ambient guitar music, then you should check this out.