VLMV – Stranded, Not Lost

Pete Lambrou, VLMV’s songwriter, has previously described the outfit as “the background music to an ambient explosion in space”, and for the most part that is apt, but there’s also something incredibly human and relatable to all the space of Stranded, Not Lost (Fierce Panda). Together with fellow Codes In The Clouds member, Ciaran Morahan, Lambrou has managed to create a continuous flow of music that is both slow-building and soaring at the same time.

Like a lot of post-rock, there are an awful lot of interludes on this record. You know, the bits between where actual stuff happens. The usual methods are to fill those gaps with gentle piano and strings and build to a crashing crescendo, but what VLMV do on Stranded, Not Lost is more meditative in its approach to songwriting. It slowly builds, as expected, but instead leads to a more subtle delivery to create a delicate ambiance that exudes beauty and vulnerability. It’s the audio equivalent of a shimmer of light reflecting off a body of water; effortlessly captivating and more complex than it initially appears.

While it’s certainly beautiful, it’s not without melancholy and the South London duo have no trouble tugging at the heartstrings, with plenty of plaintive keys on ‘And There Was Peace…’ and the wistful strings of ‘Among My Quietest Fears’. There is no one track that you can listen to and get a feel for what the rest of the album is like because you’ll just be denying yourself a very personal experience courtesy of Lambrou. His ability to write songs that are both effortlessly epic and tragically fragile is beguiling. Having said that, ‘All These Ghosts’ on its own merit is as worthy of your love and admiration as anything Sigur Rós or Explosions In The Sky have released in the last ten years.

It seems obvious to say that it feels like a complete ‘body of work’ and is best experienced as a whole, but it’s true. You can feel the loss, regret, and introspection from each track wash over you, and these very heavy sentiments are at their most powerful and affecting when experienced simultaneously. Take a long walk with some decent headphones, allow yourself to wander, and bask in VLMV’s light.