I’m going to go about the ‘Best of…’ list a little differently. I’ll do a few posts on my favourite discoveries of 2011, and since I don’t want to do it normally I’m going to kick it off with something that was recorded in 1976…because, you know, I discovered it in 2011…so it’s a Best Of… for me!!
I stumbled across this album when I discovered ‘Egg City Radio,’ a music blog that rips and archives obscure or bizarro vinyl for the world to listen to! I found some great John Carpenter music, wild italian movie soundtracks…and Vyto B. How to describe Vyto B…
He’s like everything I love in music and more. The music is catchy but not typical, the subject matter quirky and memorable, and execution raw but tight…I mean, this guy plays to his own rhythm but doesn’t skip a beat, LONG before we had computers to ensure beats were not skipped.
There’s a purity to Vyto B’s amazing piece Tricentennial 2076. It sounds like it was recorded by a great talent in a room with only microphones and time. He uses simple instrumentation – piano and voice, guitar and voice. I only recall one song with production (the opening of “To Commemorate An Imaginary Life That Dies Prematurely” has some creepy…slowed down voice effects).
What are the songs about? You know, the usual stuff…miracle devices, electronic enforcers, space love.
My appreciation for his vision (yup, I said vision) stems from the title track, Tricentennial 2076. It encompasses the entire album like the opening of a well written essay. It’s a thesis statement with proofs. Each song thereafter expands on what we learn in the opening track. It’s like one of those TV series or movies where the opening sequence is surreal and bizarre, but as you go along and are explained more about the world that’s been created it suddenly makes more and more sense.
It’s how I felt watching 12oz Mouse, a show which I probably shouldn’t be comparing to but is telling: you chuckle for the opening episodes because they’re so random, and piece by piece the story explains the most obscure elements to the point that a moving clock on the wall the squirts knockout gas becomes not only integral to the plot but essentially it’s own character!
We are taken through a world in 2076 when the US Tricentennial is about to take place, where a ‘big brother’ like existence is upon us, and where we can be saved by love. Sounds corn…trust me, the album has a camp element, but there is no corn.
And the songs are infectious. I used to play it in the office, and we would sing the chorus to Tricentennial at the top of our lungs when it came up.
Vyto B hooked me this year. It’s odd to say, but I’d put it as my #1 discovery of the year…but also probably the best album I’ve heard since being introduced to obscure and clever favourites in my youth, like Jazz Butcher or Rupert Hine or Captain Beefheart. I’ve been missing the feeling of discovery, of ownership, of finding something I missed and didn’t know existed but is exactly…EXACTLY…what I needed.
I admit it’s not for everyone, but I would appreciate any fans of music and musicians to give it a download and a listen. And if you like it…head over to Facebook and look him up…he’s there, 35 years after this album was recorded, and he’s still performing.
There will be more best of 2011 posts, probably into the New Year as well! Let me know what you thought of this kickoff…I’m sorry it wasn’t about Adele or Frank Ocean, but I figure they’re getting enough coverage everywhere else!