Vangough - Game On!,
In 2009 Oklahama based prog metal act Vangough released their debut album ‘Manikin Parade’ and I like many others was totally blown away by it. There was certainly great acclaim for this album, but the band didn’t feel that the rime was right yet for the follow-up so instead went off on a complete tangent and recorded an homage to video games. The concept is a simple one, take all of their favourite video games and then record version of the music that is present. To make it easier for the listener they have stated where every song is from, and a little bit of information about each. Now, there’s only one slight problem about this for me – it has pointed out to me many times (by children, staff, friends etc) that I am old and I never got into video games. I have always much preferred listening to music or reading (yep, now I am starting to feel old..) as opposed to video games. All of my children are into Angry Birds and various others, but I don’t even own an X Box – in fact I have never had a games station of any kind, not even a Nintendo. So, it means that I have never heard any of these songs in their original setting whereas most of the people this album is aimed at certainly will have.
But is that a problem? Not really. It means that I can take this album for what it is – a series of fairly short instrumental pieces that need to stand in their own right, which they definitely do. I have been able to listen to this album without unconsciously making any comparisons – it matters not at all where the material is sourced from, it is whether it works in the current context. In a simplistic form it could be stated that this is a covers album, and every cover version has to be valid – if a cover version sounds the same as the original what on earth is the point, and if it is very different (as it should be) then does it work without comparing to the original? “The First Cut Is The Deepest” has been covered many times by many different singers, but many will state that Rod Stewart’s is the definitive and not that of the writer, Cat Stevens, or there again should it be PP Arnold? But younger listeners may not realise that it even existed before Sheryl Crow had a hit with it in 2003.
So, does the album work as a series of instrumentals to the listener who has no idea of the originals? The answer has to be an emphatic “Yes!” This album is a joy to listen to, with wonderful interplay between the different musicians and some very lyrical guitar that is almost Jadis-like in its clarity and tone. I have really enjoyed listening to this album, and can’t wait to now hear the follow-up to ‘Manikin Parade’, ‘Kingdom of Ruin’. This is a great band, one that all progheads need to discover. For more details visit http://www.officialvangough.com/.