Vexillary – Full Frontal Lunacy

Posted: 21 November 2021 in Albums
Tags: , , , , , ,

31st October 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

The liner notes for this new outing from Vexillary proffer a rhetorical question that sounds like the start of a semi-intellectual joke: ‘What do you get when you mix a long winter with a pandemic of a lifetime and a bunch of synths lying around? The cabin fever stemming from an endless lockdown and the resulting mental demise? According to Vexillary, the perfect backdrop for a sonic self-portrait documenting one’s brush with madness.’

It’s probably fair to say that many of us have lost the plot top varying extents and in differing ways over the last couple of years, and we’ve all struggled in various ways, be it from lockdown isolation, bereavement, monetary worries, the pressure of confinement, being physically vulnerable, or scared for the future, or returning to ‘normality’ – and while anything resembling the normality we knew back in 2019 feels like a lifetime away if ever, simply resuming social interaction brings with it for many a tidal wave of anxiety.

No doubt the cabin fever that prompted the evolution of Full Frontal Lunacy will be relatable for many, myself included. Despite the comparative luxury of a back yard bit enough so sit out in and even to accommodate a paddling pool for a family of three to manage working from home and home schooling, things felt a bit claustrophobic at times, and there were many living in inner city environments and high-rise accommodation with many more people and considerably less space.

But what of the title? Full frontal carries the connotations of exposure, more in a movie / porn context than anything. That is precisely where Vexillary is coming from, of course. Social media has provided the platform where everyone airs all their grievances and let it all hang out, for better or for worse, and for many, among the food porn and actual porn, misery porn and trauma porn has been a source of entertainment since the world lost the plot and spiralled into pandemic psychosis. Full Frontal Lunacy is effectively the musical equivalent of getting your cock out on a global platform, with all things mental health and more out there on display for all to see. Trouble is, for many, it’s probably less embarrassing to get your cock out than to discuss your feeling, and so it’s a bold move, but one that sets an example and sends a message that it’s not only ok to confront these things, but vital that we share them.

It’s perhaps no surprise that the album is dominated by themes of confinement, torture, and mania, manifesting in various forms, and compressed concisely into eight slabs of dense dark, industrial-strength disco. Driven by big beats and booming bass, this is a banger in the obvious sense, although those basslines snake and grind , and the vocals are submerged in reverb or otherwise heavily treated. The ‘Scorched Mix’ of ‘Burnt Leather’ is dark and stark, sleazy and tense. The title track sounds like an outtake from Ministry’s Twitch; agitated electro cranked up and gnarly, with pulverising percussion all the way.

‘The Descent’ is dark, deep, hypnotic and follows the signature styling of repetitive motifs; ‘Absinthe Minded’ speaks – albeit not entirely coherently, conveying a mood more than a message – of self-medication, addlement and struggling through, pushing onwards toward the spacey dance of closer ‘Exit the Void’, which brings hints of Depeche Mode to the dark dance party.

Full Frontal Lunacy has a coherence and stylistic unity, but also feel like a work that’s both exploratory and urgent. It’s not an easy album, but it’s a good one.

AA

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