Friday, 3 June 2011

The Velvet Underground - White Light/White Heat

Obviously with The Velvet Underground being one of my favourite bands, it's difficult to pin point which album I prefer the most, I've always said VU's debut was my favourite, but just recently White Light/White Heat has grown on me. This is VU's second studio album after the musically viable debut The Velvet Underground & Nico, which showcased some of the bands more mainstream, Art Rock recordings.

We have six tracks here, the opener being as heavy and distorted as you can imagine. It's truly a great opener and would make my list of top 10 opening tracks anytime. You can really hear  something new every time. It could be a right sided guitar or the left sided piano, or the ever pleasing vocals. Everything is just in it's right place on this song.

Much like many VU songs, Cale's pounding piano playing is a huge stand out, he's no doubt influenced many of today's bands using this style. One to note is Arcade Fire, who consistently use this style to brighten up Arcade fire's songs. The distortion and general heaviness of the album comes from the unlimited amount of Vox equipment made available to them. 

'The Gift', is like poetry. A Distorted riff sets the tone for the song, with the what seems like several layers of guitar playing over the riff. The actual vocal is a spoken word piece with a hilarious story of love between a girl named Marsha and a boy named waldo. The song is about eight minutes long and the vocals are on the right independently, with the instrumental being on the left. it has powering guitar and several layers of distortion with the energetic bass.

One of the more beautiful tracks from White Light/White Heat, is 'Here She Comes Now'. At just two minutes, it's the shortest song and has fantastic percussion. It's delicate and in an acoustic manor. It has a delayed reverb feel which gives it this sweet, melancholy edge over the rest of the album. It's something spectacular because the guitar is very delirious and the sparse drumming only adds to the beautiful atmosphere.

The final track is also my favourite of the album, it's many peoples favourite to be honest. 'Sister Ray', it manages to sound new and innovative every time you hear it. The track is 17 minutes long, so you need to rest your ears after listening to it. This last track makes White Light/White Heat, it's the summary to the distorted drones of Velvet Undergrounds early career.

The whole album is one long drone piece of distortion and heavy bass riffs and sparse, raw drumming. The innovative techniques are still to this day recognised in today's music. With John Cale being a huge avant-garde instrumentalist. This album defines Noise Rock, it's distortion and Garage Rock-esque structures give this album something different. The lenghy Sister Ray is one of rocks masterpieces.


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