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Low Culture

TQ Sound + Vision Subscribers Get Debut VÄLVĒ LP Geography
John Doran , March 22nd, 2021 11:03

The Vernal Equinox is here and we're marking it with the release of the sumptuous, beautiful, resonant debut LP by VÄLVĒ for tQ Sound + Vision subscribers

My memories of Supernormal festival have become preternaturally dream-like of late. Dream-like not just because of the vagaries of memory exacerbated by the feathering of age but also because it's starting to seem highly unlikely that something so perfectly enjoyable, joyous and satisfying actually took place to begin with. I'm starting to have a sneaking suspicion that this weekend-long annual event celebrating outsider art, weird music and underground culture in general held in the wooded recesses of the Oxfordshire countryside is just something I've dreamt up in an uncharacteristically utopian and optimistic moment, so far away does it feel right now.

All of my favourite memories of Supernormal seem to hinge upon a perfect alignment of set and setting, of time and place. After UKAEA's sense-pulverising, psyche-rupturing destruction of the Vortex Stage in 2017, the temptation was to just quit watching music for good but high on adrenaline I found myself sprinting through the twilit site of Brazier's Park, through a copse, scrambling down a bank and to the Barn Stage just in time to experience exactly what I needed: being submerged into the sunken aqueous depths of VÄLVĒ.

VÄLVĒ began in 2013 as a solo outlet for musician Chlöe Herington's experimental compositional urges, in which she would construct elegant musical scores from a variety of unusual sources such as photographs, paintings, diagrams and written texts. These unique scores for bassoon – the instrument she has played so effectively for the likes of Chrome Hoof and Knifeworld – as well as saxophone and electronics became the jumping off point for improvisation and this placed her work at a fascinating intersection between the ancient and the new, with its formalism speaking as much to folk as much as its freedom speaks to the psychedelic. In short, this is music that occupies strange territory between the Penguin Cafe Orchestra and the BBC's Radiophonic Workshop, between Boards Of Canada and Nurse With Wound, and as such deserves our attention indeed.

In 2017, the year they played at Supernormal, VÄLVĒ became a trio with the inclusion of Elen Evans on harp and Emma Sullivan on bass and synths and they also released the heady Theosophical Society EP. This was one of our favourite releases of that year, so we're very pleased to be presenting you with VÄLVĒ's debut album proper, Geography, as one of our seasonal Sound + Vision releases, which, to be fair, would be one of our favourite albums of 2021… even if someone else were putting it out!

To listen to VÄLVĒ's Geography, you'll need to become a subscriber and sign up to the Sound & Vision tier. You can find out more about why we introduced the subscriber model in 2020 and all the amazing perks you can get here, and join via the checkout below. This release will be exclusively available to Sound & Vision subscribers until the Summer Solstice, June 21.