Veil Of Light
The turn taken by Swiss darkwave act Veil Of Light over the past decade and six LPs has been a subtle one made in degrees, but becomes dramatic once you take a step back and revisit the different stages which have led to new LP Sundancing. Far removed from the project’s roots in stern and often martial post-punk, Sundancing finds the duo settling upon a bright and direct style of synthpop which lives and dies by its melodic skills.
Sounding like a clear progression from the preceding Inflict‘s use of throbbing, borderline-EBM rhythms and Landslide‘s infusion of those rhythms with more pronounced melodies, as its title suggests Sundancing is a decidedly bright affair, splitting its run-time between the languid and dreamy new wave of “Remain The Same” and down the pipe, uptempo synthpop numbers like “Apricot Kiss”. Both styles, but especially the latter, are generally associated with immediate hooks, which are in intermittent supply on Sundancing. The sweeping orch-hits of “Hypersleep” have plenty of froth and action, but not enough in the way of a melodic foundation to hold with the listener after their run-time. “Raindancing” is a faithful enough homage to Low-Life-era New Order, with synths and funk guitar trading the spotlight, but its build seems to demand a bigger chorus which never arrives.
It’s not that the songs are necessarily boring by virtue of lacking some massive major-key synth melody, but one gets the sense that their embedding within Veil Of Light’s earlier and more traditionally darkwave structures might have given their more laid back charms a more suitable environment. Sometimes the linking of the different periods of Veil Of Light’s styles pays off. The unassuming “Tonight” (half Thompson Twins, half Riki) has a pleasantly evocative air which allows percussive and harmonic flourishes to flit about like butterflies in an arboretum, and closer “Homesick” delivers an emotional punch by laying a classic Cure-styled lamenting guitar figure atop a lurching military klaxon.
Earlier tracks like “Throwing Stones” or “Sturm Und Drang” which first put Veil Of Light on our radar demanded attention simply by virtue of the sheer drama and bombast they carried. While the move to incorporate softer and perhaps more dynamic sounds into Veil Of Light is an admirable one, that shift comes with a different set of listening protocols and standards. While Sundancing has a number of pleasant and enjoyable enough moments to offer, too often those moments are forgetting the second the titular dance ceases.