Voluptas Mors – Inception – Album Review
No surprises here – Voluptas Mors is back already with another new album, proving my theory that its two main members Ramon and Laura clearly do not require that thing the rest of us humans need & have come to call ‘sleep’ – I swear these two artists are from a whole other planet. And upon that planet, wherever it may be, there is an endless jam of kickass tunes being broadcast to the universe. Somehow our lucky planet Earth is able to pick up the frequency of this otherworldly project full of superhuman talent and endlessly impressive sound – I’ve said it before and I’m sure I’ll be saying it again only mere months from now – Voluptas Mors is by far and away one of the best independent bands out there in the music-scene, period, full-stop. The level of consistency in this duo’s music and constantly compelling sounds they create are always of the highest caliber. Ramon & Laura’s ability to combine imagination & skill, passion & quality…it’s never anything short of completely inspiring and truly breathtaking…it’s like each and every time I get a chance to hear something new from them, I know that I can depend on this reliable duo to produce the goods without question. They make fabulous music, they use great featured guest vocalists, they’re unafraid to try exciting new things – AND…you always get that top-notch professional audio quality that is guaranteed to slide smoothly right into your soul. There is…quite simply…not much else out there that I can think of…that is THIS easy to support; I’m starting to fully believe that the only thing Voluptas Mors is incapable of, is any kind of wrong move.
I mean like, c’mon…are you telling me you can resist the sound of “I’m Falling Down Again?” Go ahead and give it a fifteen second spin…you’ll want more I’m sure…but if you’re not already convinced of that within those first fifteen seconds, I’m willing to eat my hat, that’s what I’m saying. That’s how to create an INSTANT impact dear readers, dear friends – “I’m Falling Down Again” immediately reminds you just how incredible Voluptas Mors can truly be right off the bat. We’re talking Portishead level of cool in the music starting out this cut…brilliant like…muted guitars from Ramon I think…not quite sure exactly what creates that main melody line but I love it – and when the guitars increase their presence around the 1:40 mark, “I’m Falling Down Again” seems to find an even livelier second gear. The percussion from Laura has been outstanding right from the very first moments, the saxophone solo is an essential part of this whole experience and really makes the most of the mid-section of this tune, taking us on a genuine adventure in sound you’ll never want to end. With the smooth & jazzy vocals delivering so stylistically and with such precision & authentic swagger in the sound, Voluptas Mors comes up with an insightful pairing right at the beginning of Inception that is beyond smooth & enticing to listen to…if a song like this doesn’t serve as the gateway into a record, I honestly don’t know what would. “I’m Falling Down Again” immediately confirms that the standards & quality you know & love from Voluptas Mors is completely intact and that we’re all once again likely in store for an exceptional ride we’ll never forget.
Great beat and keyboard combination on the music of “Elevate My Head,” with a really strong supporting atmosphere surrounding the memorable hooks in the vocals of this second tune. Voluptas Mors dial the energy back a bit here, spreading out the sound more delicately on “Elevate My Head” but certainly no less committed than they always are. Tough call on this one in the sense that I think it might have made a bigger impact as the first song on Inception as opposed to the second…it’s the kind of thing no one can ever be sure of, but I can hear how it might have felt like the record expands with “I’m Falling Down Again” being the second cut, rather than feeling like it contracts a bit with “Elevate My Head.” Plus I think that gentle, hazy vibe they created on “Elevate My Head” would have definitely eased us into their new album, giving it plenty of room to grow from there; but in contrast, I’ll admit that the first impression is always the one that truly counts and putting their best foot forward with “I’m Falling Down Again” was indeed, the correct call ultimately. Might come down to placement when it comes to this second song…I think there’s a lot of great melodically-rhythmic moments and stunning electro ideas that swirl through the spacious sound of “Elevate My Head” and there’s no doubt it’s a good song – I was just never entirely sold on the placement of where it appears on this record. But who am I to judge that anyhow? I’ll take whatever I can get from Voluptas Mors in whatever order they want to give it to me. I shouldn’t complain…and really I’m not – there’s just almost nothing else to consider or comment on when the music consistently comes out sounding as flawless as it does…when that’s the case, you gotta break out the minor observations and things that can be considered for the future.
If anything, I think “Elevate My Head” has a really tough spot on the record – it’s a great tune, but it’s wedged between two even greater tunes perhaps, with “I’m Falling Down Again” and “Gates Of Perfection” on either side of it! The layered vocal approach of “Gates Of Perfection” is insanely cool to listen to – they just continually gets better, more involved, more wild, more into the moment…fantastic. Reminds me a bit of like…Mint Royale here…the electro-beat is magnificently smooth and the way that the male/female vocals complement each other here is audibly as good as it can possibly get. Truly – the harmony and contrast between these two personalities on the microphone are so well suited to each other that it’s remarkably impressive – that’s the energy you want in a vocal collaboration. They both sound immaculately pumped-up to perform this one, controlling it all with a professional cool, and together, they captivate on the microphones just as much as Ramon & Laura do through the music. Maybe even like…a Zero 7 kind of vibe happening here…”Gates Of Perfection” has that similar level of inviting warmth and soulful sound…another really strong tune on Inception and highlight early on.
Don’t get me wrong – I was already enjoying “Queens Playing Games” from the beginning – but once that beat punches in mid-song, I came right back to the whole fascination with Voluptas Mors in general. Honestly – LISTEN to that moment and how “Queens Playing Games” progresses…and TRY to convince me that you wouldn’t listen to this just as much or MORE than what you listen to from the mainstream! That’s the level of amazing we’re talking about here with this band…their music is strong enough that it should make you reconsider where you’re getting your music from altogether…because if this is what the independent scene has to offer, believe me when I say, the mainstream basically can’t compete. Those initial guitar strums make such an impact when they come in to support the melody & vocals…from their stadium-flashy sound, you can absolutely hear that “Queens Playing Games” is going to expand and evolve into something even more killer, it’s clearly just a matter of time. As they trip out past the two-minute mark and those drums come in with the electro melody pulsing, Voluptas Mors shifts gears and takes your entire stereo system to the next level. Vocals as spot-on as ever, there’s a sweet mix of sensual energy in the singing that fits the sleek movements of “Queens Playing Games” remarkably well. Fantastic build-up in this tune…truly – I love the way this song develops and the release that comes with that mid-point of the song as they take this idea to its stunning full potential. The first half of this cut is excellent – the second half is the sound of a band at the top of their game.
Love the inventive combination of piano-led curious sounds on “Love’s So Strong” and the way the vocals play outside of the verses, using scattered vocalizations as well as the words. Poetic and beautiful lyrically, contrasting with the deep melody provided by the piano, beat, sax and electro elements hanging in the air…it’s not quite dark exactly, but it is murky and somewhat mysterious sounding. Personally I dig that; at its core, “Love’s So Strong” is of course, a love song…or at least a love-themed song – it’s kinda nice to not have to venture into syrupy-sweet sounds in order to get the point across, know what I mean? There’s tremendous personality and character in this music of “Love’s So Strong” – a vibe that you can immediately feel sweep over you and run down your spine…like a mix of sweet sentiment and deadly sexy sound combined. The vocal-flow on this song is killer, the singing is wonderfully expressive and dreamy, rhythmic and melodic…I’ll admit, lyrically it might seem like an odd fit to some, but I think it completely adds a unique, thought-provoking layer in between the light & dark of this tune as you listen. The trumpet sounds at the end of this cut are freakin’ GOLD…a really clever final move to add just a bit more into what’s already been an extremely satisfying experience. I felt like “Love’s So Strong” has a real advantage of standing out from the rest due to how different it was.
That being said, ‘different’ is quite often what they do – and man do they do it well! “Heal This” felt like a really fresh idea inside of the Voluptas Mors sound…there’s almost like…hmm…I’d say like a Cold War Kids kind of sound being infused in here…that spare atmosphere, wild vocals, big drums…not all the CWK songs of course, but there’s a similarity there; maybe a bit of The Cure in here too…there’s a Robert Smith like edge to the male vocals that I’m supremely digging. “Heal This” felt spectacularly new and unpredictable, steady and reliable through for its gigantic beat and magnificent vocals, but tense and frantic at the same time, like the walls are caving in around them or they’re trying to keep their cool & keep it all together. The results are freakin’ awesome…you can feel the ground shake with every surge forward on this tune while they stomp out the beat and vocals perfectly. Chances are, this song would be the largest departure from the rest of the tunes surrounding it on Inception, but it’s still completely cohesive when it comes to the context of this particular record. While I think that there’s a chance that the male vocals will take a bit of an adjustment for some to get used to at this point in the record, I also think that there’s a whole other dimension of fans that will respond powerfully to this. Those drums are so HUGE and incredible…the way they set the energy in place for the vocals to spring off of and respond to is pure perfection – and though I think the male-led tunes of this record might be a degree or two less accessible compared to the female-driven tracks – I think the vocal performance on “Heal This” is bold, powerful, expressive, and a solid match for a vibe such as this.
All I’m saying is that, compared to how highly accessible the sound of a song like “Give Me What I Want” is…well, pretty much everything else out there sounds like mixing cement by comparison really. Not just by this band, but by ANY band, you feel me? This is as smooth as smooth can be! What a gorgeous, free-flowing, hypnotic sound on this cut! I’m sure I’ve made comparisons to Sneaker Pimps, Curve, or Poe in the past reviews of Voluptas Mors…if I haven’t, I should have…listen to a track like “Give Me What I Want” and tell me that’s not the sound right there! Voluptas Mors sits right there on a level playing field with their peers in the Trip-Hop genre, if not a step already above them all. For the sheer amount of effort, enthusiasm, and music they put out there – Voluptas Mors should already have your heart in comparison to any of those projects, artists or bands I’ve mentioned…even at their most active, they couldn’t keep up with Laura and Ramon, there’s no way. Absolutely a highlight for the vocals – the ethereal & angelic sound and incredible mix they’ve got on them with the slight echo trailing into the atmosphere…that’s pure magic right there. The sentiment is as sweet as ever, the sound of the music makes a more concentrated to match the brightness of the vibe as opposed to contrast it this time around, and snap, right around the two-minute mark, Voluptas Mors drops the beat into place and puts your entire soul into cruise mode. “Give Me What I Want” is powerfully chill, exquisitely clear, and its ever-flowing dreamy vocals slip right into the atmosphere like they’re gliding in amongst the clouds and on up into the stars. Everything seems to come together as well as you could ever hope on this tune.
In many ways, I think their final cut of Inception takes some of the biggest chances they’ve taken on this entire record. On the one hand – I think Laura deserves a freakin’ award for the amazing drums & percussion she’s put so expertly into “This Dream,” and I think whatever it is that’s eventually being strummed with its off-kilter, muted & dusty sound just prior to the two-minute mark, is absolutely sonic gold in texture. Same thing goes for the ice-like synth sounds…they fill in the atmosphere with serious charisma, tension, and beauty. Personally, I think the vocals are spectacular…but I’d likely again draw that comparison to the dude from Cold War Kids in how they sound and how they’re used…and I can understand that it’s not entirely a universal style or approach. To this very day I still have arguments with some of my best friends about CWK being a step ahead of the rest when it comes to their vocals…and I think ultimately that’s the case here as well – Voluptas Mors is pushing the boundaries yet again here with another killer collaboration & combination of sounds that will take adjusting for some – and for the rest of us, we end up easily satisfied with their continual evolution. Past the two-minute mark, the full scope of this song really comes together in a finale-worthy performance, reaching peak intensity before breaking down into a desolate & sparse finish that’s perfectly bare & entirely conclusive. Quite frankly, I think the vocal-melody that’s been discovered here is pretty much as incredible as a part can ever be written or performed…the amount of emotion and uniqueness to what’s happening on “This Dream” makes a massive impact on Inception’s final moments…it might not be as instantly accessible as some of the other tunes, but this is the kind of writing that seriously lasts over time. Every time “This Dream” came on, I felt like I was listening to a real creative breakthrough once more in the music of Voluptas Mors…this project continues to evolve & refine itself in all the right ways.
Find out more about Voluptas Mors at their official website: http://voluptasmors.com