They make regular appearances as a headlining act at large European festivals, and yet ask the average America fan about VNV Nation and they likely will tell you that they’ve never heard of this German Dance behemoth.
Victory Not Vengeance, better known to the world at large as VNV Nation, has been a survivor in the fickle music business since the dance explosion of 1990. Perseverance in a genre that has been a roller-coaster in the past decade by the stubborn duo was rewarded in 1999 with the accension of the third full length album Empires into the number one slot of the German Alternative Charts. Every release since, 2002's Futurperfect and now 2005's Matter + Form has also graced the number one slot of the GAC. They make regular appearances as a headlining act at large European festivals, and yet ask the average America fan about VNV Nation and they likely will tell you that they’ve never heard of this German Dance behemoth. Its shame really.
On Matter + Form, lyricist and composer, Ronan Harris, continues to bring powerful, insightful lyrics that bleed sincerity. He touches on topics of the past in "Homeward", the future in "Entropy", our society in "Arena", nations in "Entropy", and the self in "Perpetual" and "Endless Skies". The biggest message of Matter + Form, and for that matter, every VNV Nation album before it, is to value every moment of your life. In the immortal words of Ferris Bueller - "Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile you could miss it." It is a sentiment that is particularly apt in an American society that is torn over politics and religion as of late. The album title itself is a reference to alchemy and a period of history when science and religion were a convergence of the same theories, co-existing for the most part side by side without the strife and contempt.
Matter + Form exhibits elements of EBM, Trance, Down Tempo, and Pop. Harris and his collaborator, Mark Jackson, achieve an emotional depth by approaching each song as a scene in a larger story. An example of this is the melody heard during the climatic song "Perpetual" that was foreshadowed briefly during the opening bars of "Chrome" (a dance hit and incidentally the band’s first single ever released to the internet). One of the elements that distinguishes this album from prior VNV Nation efforts is the dramatic use of Mark Jackson’s performance on live drums over the more traditional usage of programmed drums. Jackson’s live drums flesh out songs such as "Entropy" and "Perpetual"; adding more weight and strength without sacrificing beauty and subtlety.
Not only is Matter + Form one of the top five releases in the Goth/Industrial/Dance genres this year, but it is easily one of the top twenty releases of any genre for the calendar year of 2005. Unfortunately, we are left to wonder if the rest of the American public will ever come to the same realization.
Metropolis Records: http://www.metropolis-records.com
VNV Nation official site: http://www.vnvnation.com
Kind of like Assemblage 23, Icon of Coil, and Neuroticfish