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  • Writer's pictureGloria Tang

Vanilla Bloom New Album 'Promise'

Vanilla Bloom’s Promise is a long set of intentionally psychedelic music. It’s dreamy, druggy and woozy and requires a somewhat similar mind state to truly appreciate it. This is lyrically so, as well as musically. At one point during “Metro Transit Gloria” we’re told, “All my yesterdays and all my tomorrows/I leave at the station.” If this doesn’t sound like the beginning of a magical mystery tour, nothing does.

Vanilla Bloom is Jacob Cloutier’s “psychedelic pop music project,” and it is quite the accomplished feat. It’s also the artist’s debut album. It’s packed with twelve songs and lasts just shy of an hour. It’s also psychedelic in the modern sense. This is not a lot of backwards played electric guitar parts or Syd Barrett insanity, although those sources are more than likely influences. No, there are, instead, plenty of off kilter electronic parts. For instance, “Ticket To Ride” opens with a The Postal Service/Death Cab for Cutie-like keyboard vibe. When Cloutier sings it, he does so with a high, nearly falsetto vocal.

One titled “Cloud Pink” begins with what sounds like a bonfire burning, which then leads into a church organ sound. Cloutier next sings it over computer-like bleeps and belches, with a childlike voice that brings to mind Wayne Coyne of Flaming Lips. In fact, much of Promise will likely appeal to Flaming Lips fans. Coyne and bandmates have made it no secret that they receive inspiration from psychedelic musical sources. “Cloud Pink” goes into a sort of children’s song sonic vibe toward its ending. This is not aggressive music, by any stretch of the imagination. Instead, if many times sounds as though Cloutier has gone into a childlike mind frame while creating it.

One that’s called “Renegade” appears a couple times in differing variations on the project. One hears a bit more guitar on these recordings, as well as the (now) usual odd sound effects. There are also brass horns included, which only adds to the overall wild auditory mix. With a little more 4/4 rhythm on these various tracks, Promise could have been electronic dance music. However, Cloutier seems to want to create a disorienting vibe, rather than inspire listeners to want to dance.

The album closes with “Ourora Borealis,” where Cloutier’s frail voice is set to a shapeshifting rhythm, which never sounds to settle into to too much of a recognizably steady groove. The instrumental parts between vocals sometimes sound slightly orchestral, even though they are synthetic sounds. Clothier’s voice is so far back in the mix, it can be a challenge to decipher exactly what he’s saying during this one. Once again, he appears to be setting out more to create a vibe or mood, instead of intending to make any specific lyrical statements.

Vanilla Bloom deserves credit for conjuring up a consistent sonic mood with Promise. It’s certainly experimental. Then again, the listener may not come away with any concepts or ideas expressed through this music. No, it feels more like art for art’s sake, rather than utilizing art to put a message across. It’s easy to get lost in this music, so if you’re having a particularly stressful day, this may just be a good place to escape for about an hour.

Listen to 'Promise' here:


-Dan MacIntosh


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