A tough to swallow musical treat, that’s what Psychic Hex by Vampire Slayer really is. And it’s like that from the beginning of the record, to its very end. I tought I could get used to it if I just listen to it more. Well, I couldn’t. The Mexican musician Valentin Torres achieved an insane level of complexity in his latest album by keeping his sound tools at the simplest possible level. Quite of a musical paradox, but such a delicious one!
Psychic Hex is based on simple sound waves and weird, but clean sounds. It is high pitched, but surely not mellow. It is atmospheric, but certainly not dark and gloomy. It is repetitive, monotonous and very mediative, but it leaves your ears on the verge of exhaustion and senselessness. The record totally lacks any pretentiousness and in the same time it requires your full attention. You can’t play Psychic Hex as background music, because it will definitely destroy your nerves. However if carefully followed, it turns into an interesting, but very demanding companion for one of the last sunny afternoon in the fading autumn.
‘Bad Pad’ offers such a calm and comforting start to the record. However only 3 minutes later, you know you were deceived. Not only you are not welcome in this simplistic cold ambience, created by plain sounds and pads, almost completely lacking overtones, but you will have tough time getting out if it. The next piece, called Black Room, doesn’t even try to fool you. It uncompromisingly forcefeeds you everything you will have to cope with in the record. Repetition, piercing high frequencies and intense drones, sometimes disrupted by weird sounds. A comforting fact is the songs in the album are arranged in quite a balanced manner. While pieces like Black Room, Desert Chasmas, Global Manipulation are really exhausting and intense, the ones between them are a bit more chilled and almost let you breathe. My absolute highlight in the record is the closing track Window Peeping. It is totally different from the rest of the songs. It feels like it was put there to mock you for believing that you understood the music stuffed in Psychic Hex. And it feels like that no matter how many times you replay the album.
This the kind of record that makes you curious about the artist’s background. So you search and find out Torres is coming from a weird and now defunct disco punk band Maniqui Lazer. Now he’s both a solo musician and a part of a post-rock/improv band called Letters From Readers. Nothing so special, so the questions around the music of Vampire Slayer will remain open for a while. An interesting fact is that with this project Torres is also quite active live. I’m so anxious to know how this music feels when experienced live, because comfortably sitting at home it is challenging to comprehend, but so damn addictive. I can’t even imagine it, if played through a massive sound system. However, there’s one thing I sincerely hope that Valentin will reconsider and this is his mindless current monicker. Such wondrous music should not exist under a name, which is far more suitable for a ridiculous Finnish Power Metal band.
01 Bad Pad
02 Broken Audio Card
03 Desert Charms
04 Internet Celebrity
05 Global Manipulation
07 Black Room
08 Window Peeping