Dusted Reviews

Tom Vek - We Have Sound

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: Tom Vek

Album: We Have Sound

Label: Tummy Touch

Review date: Jul. 14, 2005

Boom-ba-ch-ch. Ch-ch. Boom-ba-ch-ch. Ch-ch. Tom Vek anchors his garage rock snarl with thudding something’s-in-the-dryer beats, a choice few of which I could envision DJ Premier jacking. “C-C (You Set the Fire In Me)” starts the festivities with a matter-of-fact rhythm and a dumbass lyric about nothing much. Halfway through, the beat begins indulging every fill at its disposal, and things never quite get back to normal.

It’s all squelched out as fuck, this album. More Walkie Talkie squelch than Eno squelch.

“I Ain’t Saying My Goodbyes” draws its guitar hook from the same sort of naïve enthusiasm that makes kids clip playing cards inside their bike wheels. Like most of We Have Sound, its new wave bitterness strikes an uneasy bargain with its deep-down disco-riffic-fun-fun-fun spirit. How mean-spirited can a track be when punctuated with sound-effects worthy of the cheesiest old school video game?

Vek’s voice is as flat as David Byrne’s, and helps make the album’s ethos as confusing as it wants to be. “A Little Word In Your Ear” sounds like a Cure fan’s concept of dub fusion, and as it lets Vek’s queasy poetic sensibility come to the fore (“Last night I had a dream about everyone here… the cigarettes you smoke have no smoke”). At this point, it’s hard to tell how much of Vek’s implicit cynicism (so implicit, I might be imagining it) represents hedonism or flat-out fatalism, and it doesn’t matter. For We Have Sound isn’t any kind of a statement, really. It’s such a mishmash of concepts that it could “mean” anything.

And it goes on. “If I Had Changed My Mind” Vek-i-fies chugging proto-psychobilly of the sort Hasil Adkins used to play. When he hits those high notes on the chorus, he bounces off the narrow limits of his ability. Either that, or We Have Sound is more a product of Vek’s mind than his heart. Who really cares? I don’t think Vek is ever being ironic here. I think he’s simply a weirdo.

Take the top five names on a list entitled “People Ripped Off On Odelay,” and they all supply Vek’s raw material for the tropical hip hop twister “The Lower the Sun,” but to somewhat different ends. Its sour bass groove aligns it with deconstructionist, flowerpot-hatted geek funk Beck always respectfully avoided.

Most of Tom Vek’s influences are at least fifteen years old and easily triangulated. But he’s unencumbered by nostalgia. We Have Sound is so difficult to isolate from Vek’s ass-backwards charisma, I wonder if the man might be a visionary.

And with “That Can Be Arranged,” the album ends, not with booms, but with clicks. While he’s done something most definitely his own, he leaves no trail to follow. But I’ll be watching his every move.

By Emerson Dameron

Read More

View all articles by Emerson Dameron

Find out more about Tummy Touch

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.