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Album Review: Stranded, Not Lost by VLMV

South London duo VLMV release their debut album Stranded, Not Lost on 16th February via Fierce Panda. The band, up until recently, known as ALMA (until several cases of mistaken identity with the BBC Sound of 2018 nominee necessitated a branding rethink) have delivered up 10 tracks of haunting and moving music falling somewhere in between post-rock and ambient rock. It’s all brooding, ambient soundscapes, soaring vocals and crashing intensity that capture your imagination and make for a thrilling listen.

The band, which was formed in 2015 by songwriter Pete Lambrou have been described as sounding like “the background music to an ambient explosion in space”, which is perhaps unsurprising when one considers that as mainstay of Codes in The Clouds and Monsters Build Mean Robots Lambrou’s gently cosmic post-rock provenance is impeccable. Joined by fellow Code In The Cloudser Ciaran Morahan, VLMV deploy a loop station, multiple delay pedals, a piano and strings to create a slow-moving, high-flying soundscape of luscious gravitas.

This is an album that begs to be listened to as once piece of music. It’s in this form that the album has the most impact, each track complements each other – moving from one emotional landscape to the next, transporting you to a dreamland where your emotions are laid bare and there’s endless possibilities.

That was seemingly a concerted effort from the band as Pete Lambrou said: “Stranded, Not Lost is the first album I’ve written as a whole album, and not just songs that are pieced together to form a sort of best of after a certain period. I built a retreat studio in the basement of my house and buried myself there for a while. I wanted to keep this spatial feel that our previous album had, but create something more intimate. Thematically it’s a very inward album, which I haven’t really done for a long time. I think you can really hear the isolation in there. It’s personal, lonely and regretful.”

It’d be foolish of us to dissect each individual track on Stranded, Not Lost as it would do the album a disservice. Sure, there’s tracks like ‘If Only’, ‘Among My Quietest Fears’ and the title track that standout as wonderfully powerful tracks, but their impact is made all the stronger by each track around them. They segue into each other effortlessly, like one heaving mass the 43 minutes of moving post-rock will astound and move you.

Don’t be expecting big crescendos, this is something altogether quieter and subtler. It will connect with you emotionally and leave a lasting impression. Essential.

AD Rating: 8/10

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