SOTVO’s Creative, Gothic Debut: ‘Trip Preserve’

Brooklyn-based band SOTVO has put their first album up on Bandcamp and they describe it as “gothy/shoegazey/doom.” It consists of 10 tracks, with some of the titles tending to conform to that description: “The Fire,” “Killjoy,” “Ruiner,” “Give Me a Bruise.”

The album  proves to be surprisingly engaging – a pleasurable experience – for those who enjoy loud and in-your-face music. It contains a heavily technological and artfully crafted 21st century sound that captures the full evolution of dark rock, with competing guitars, masterful electronic effects, and melodious hooks.

Singer Mark Posillico blends his wailing vocals, which are sometimes plaintive and sometimes angry, into the tsunami of jangling guitars and emphatic, percussive bass. The instrumental accompaniment is there at all times in full force. He adds a somewhat macabre effect by groaning the lyrics in sustained notes that trail off into a gradual fade. The melodies can sometimes be dissonant as fits the various negative subjects as in the songs “Killjoy” and “Ruiner,” but they remain listenable when expressing harsh, punk-ish attitude.

The first track, “Dreamscape,” is a superb entry in the psychedelic genre, an almost five-minute wade through an otherworldly syrup of electronica. The title track is also the final track, and it similarly has a dream-like feel. Thus, two uncanny pieces bracket the more raucous middle like musical bookends. The other eight songs are mostly fast-paced and represent eight different ways to express cynicism and feelings of anger, protest, and despair through song. Tool comes to mind, but SOTVO employs more discordance; the vocals are more distant and there is greater use of electronic distortion. “Nightmare Girl,” is like the Cramps on production steroids.

“Trip Preserve,” that aforementioned title track, is probably the deepest, darkest representative of an already very dark album. It really showcases the band’s finesse at structuring a slower paced weave of dramatic vocals, splashy guitar, croaking bass, and persistent, expressive percussion.

Drawing on every tributary of goth, shoegaze, and doom, this album comes across as a creative synthesis of all those traditions with added elements of heavy metal, post punk, and nineties alternative. Not surprisingly, SOTVO credits Nirvana, Joy Division, My Bloody Valentine, and Sonic Youth for inspiration.

James Maynard Keenan, here’s your choice for an opening band!