VNV Nation Returns in Grandiose Form
VNV Nation has never been content with simply making dance music. Yes, the duo's dense discography is laced with an innate electronic groove, but Ronan Harris and Mark Jackson don't create sounds just to entertain the body. Since banding together in 1994, the pair of London-to-Hamburg transplants has dipped into the sonic pools of industrial, pop, and trance. This intriguing, high-minded mesh has even been decorated with the nebulous tag of "futurepop. " But the best example of VNV Nation's expansiveness (and occasional excess) comes from its album titles.
Past works include Praise the Fallen (1998), Empires (1999), Futureperfect (2002), and Judgement (2007), among others. Their seventh and latest is Of Faith, Power and Glory, a full-length released this past June whose cover features a hooded stone monument set against a darkened sky. It looks more like a teaser poster for a medieval blockbuster than it does the cover of an electronic album.
Harris, responsible for the lyrics, vocals, and some instrumentation, is proud of the bombast. "If you want to give [the album] a grandiose title, make it fucking epic!" he says. "There's nothing congenial or mediocre about the process of creating something."
Of Faith lives up to the self-designated pomp. The album is a panoramic portrait of translucent synths, drilling clatter, and shockwaves of electronic drums. Harris's vocals loom above all sound but are never obtrusive; instead, his missives float in, tying mind candy onto melody.
Harris also says Of Faith, Power and Glory's title refers to the three elements most coveted by humanity. "Every song on the album in some way interprets it," he says, and he's not joking. In a lyric addressing the first noun in the title, "In Defiance" features Harris saying, "Be all that you hoped for/The best you could be." In "Art of Conflict," a near-computerized version of his voice advises, "The art of war is of vital importance to the state," addressing the "power" part of the title. For "glory," dissect "The Great Divide": "Deep is the longing in the heart that ever strives/The expanses far and wide that still confine."
VNV Nation's scope inherently invites a sense of analysis, and that's how the band members want it. "Everything is epic," Harris says. "It's just how you go about it."
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