Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
The latest record from New York band Via Audio will make you feel as if you're hunted or hunting and it will go on to make you feel as if there's no telling either of those very different acts apart. It's called "Animalore" and it penetrates the beast-like qualities that probably led the advertising executives for the new Call of Duty video game to make a commercial, featuring Jimmy Kimmel and Kobe Bryant firing assault rifles and rocket launchers, under the banner of the tag, "There is a soldier in all of us." It could have just read, "There is an untamed lion in all of us," but that lion cannot be held accountable for its misdeeds. The same cannot be said for a man, woman or child with a gun. Either way, where we are here is in a patch of brush, lying under cover, minding our tracks and minding our tells and our sounds to not letting too much out of the bag or we'll get ourselves killed - that or we'll find ourselves waking up in the morning with caked blood on our claws and a bitter iron taste on our tongues. We tend to feel that we're nothing like all of the pitiful animals out there, living in strict survival mode. We'd like to believe that and yet, so many parts of "Animalore" will lead us to think otherwise and we'll begin to feel paranoid, as if there were bigger animals than us, crouching in the dark, just waiting for us to let our guards down for the splits of seconds. And in that time, we'd be finished, obliterated, turned into a motionless ball of regrets. Via Audio makes us feel those innate calculations and calibrations, those thresholds and triggers that are set off without us even knowing it.
With this album, we're forced to think of ourselves as mere instincts and very little emotion. This has nothing to do with emotion (and everything to do with emotion) and isn't that really where everyone messes up - thinking that it's all a reaction, some response to an emotion that's hard to put into words, but we sense that it's there? Most of what we need to know to get us through has to do with exerting a scent or a manner that alerts all comers to back off and mind their own business, that we are not to be trifled with. Most of what it takes to appear strong is a tone and a pace that doesn't waver, a hitch to one's step that is precise and sharp. As Jessica Martins sings on "Tigers," "If they've got an iron grip then make yours steel/So they can feel you're for real," it's just willful chatter and appearances - a stance, that will keep things under control. You've got to show that you are a motherfucker not to be messed with or heaven help you. Heaven help you. Martins is able to impact us with her subtle ways and her notions of silent inference, as she sings, "Just give a little nod and I will know," on "Wanted" and we tend to believe that she's able to communicate with us through this body language, through the vibrations in the air and through the ability to reason with staring and snorts, and a pinch of the wild.
Via Audio Daytrotter Session