Vienna Ditto's 'Circle' Ticks All The Right Boxes
This London-based duo has been a staple of the live music circuit for years. Now, having built up an army of fans, the band, described by Huw Stephens of Radio 1 fame as 'Portishead doing a Tarantino soundtrack', release their long-awaited debut album, ‘Circle’.
Vienna Ditto burst onto the commuter belt live music scene back in 2008, and with punk artwork and Le Tigre type performances, the band quickly gathered a stalwart fanbase. Including myself, who many moons ago booked them to play a DYSPclub night in Reading.
It wasn't long before they were scouted by BBC Berkshire and given the opportunity to play the BBC Introducing stage at 2009's Glastonbury. The band was ascending into musical superstardom as they hit the studio to record their inaugural album.
When the opportunity arose to review their debut album, I jumped at the chance. I was keen and intrigued to see how the band had evolved and what they sounded like on record. And it was worth the wait.
Described as voodoo sci-fi blues, the 12-track album opens with “This Is Normal” and I have to say this is the perfect soundbite for it. It's packed full of attitude, as singer Hetty proclaims “that this is fucked up”, complemented by glorious cosmic synths and plenty of soundscape guitars to produce a dark and retro feeling track.
Key track “Feeling Good” featured guitar shredding, distorted beats and bluesy Saffron of Republica-esque vocals. This innovative track highlighted the band's individuality. However, it was third track “Wintertime” that caught my attention. Electro jazz at its best, there was something Clockwork Orange and dystopian about it being wintertime and living is hard. Those jazz and soul aficionados will recognise this is a melancholic take on Billie Holiday's Summertime.
“Oh Josephine” is a track ready for radio. If I was a betting woman, I would say this was the single. It played into the band's sci-fi blues USP but had more of a pop feel to it... warped pop, but pop nonetheless.
The LP features the band's first ever song “Long Way Down”. This is the song that fans know them for, so it's only right it should feature on their freshman effort.
Hetty's velvet, Nico-esque vocals add a seductive tone through every track. It pulled from so many eras and sounds; it's really difficult to pigeonhole them. There is always something about them that makes me think they can do better, like work with Bjork, Tricky or avant-garde trailblazers.
Huw Stephens was right about the hints of Portishead and the edgy, yet kitsch Tarantino quality to them. With tracks like “A Happy Car is a Stolen Car” resurrecting 50s bubblegum pop, “Pale Horse Rider” resembling 60s psychedelic blues, “Hold On” echoing 70s glam-rock and “Hammer & Nail” sounding like a 60s vision of the future fairground; Vienna Ditto prove they're the trash-psychedelia-cum-art-space-blues band we've been waiting for.
To find out more about Vienna Ditto, click here.
To visit the band's facebook page, click here.
Words by Helen Andreou.