Neon Indian – VEGA INTL. Night School

The Texas based electronic project of Mexican born Alan Palomo returns with his third studio album with VEGA INTL. Night School to follow on from his second album Era Extrana from 2011. His earlier works formed a large part of the growing Chillwave genre and with his third album it would seem than Alan is moving away from his initial sound towards a more retro-filled style that takes influence from Space Rock, Disco and more primitive electronica. Added to this are his whispy vocals with a pop sensibility to still hint at that chilled sound. Can the shift in sound be justified?

‘Slumlord’ features a more funky and groove orientated disco and space rock sound with a electronic tinge that guides the opening of the track as the rhythm is forged from the warping and distorted chords. From there it is taken over by a rolling bass line, poppy synths and the soft, easy listening vocals of Alan Palomo. It is a track of rich soundscapes and pop melodies, but delivered with a rougher production and so has that atmospheric quality to it too. it fits into a nice middle ground between the takes on the sound from Daft Punk and Broken Bells alike and has the best qualities of both. The same style is delivered in a more direct and genuinely pop laden fashion with ‘Annie’ with it’s siren-like synths and high pitched backing vocals with the warped opposite intercepting it. It has meandering and low lying bass line which generates the energy of the track from which the synths simply add too. These synths go on to their own warped and churned instrumental before sleekly slipping back into the rhythm of the song.

‘Street Level’ provides more industrial sounds that shift and warp their pitches as the various pieces of competing electronica forge their disjointed rhythm and tune. Alan’s utilises his vocals to accentuate the rough edged and meandering sound which ventures into classic dance territory for brief moments before moving back towards the industrial pop. This heavy and distortion-laden production style is applied to the jangling disco guitars of ‘Dear Skorpio Magazine’ and the track even applies this sound to what is akin to an early hip hop track as the samples churn and shift against the distorted sounds and ‘Glitzy Hive’ is similar in this sense from a purely Pop perspective. The dance sounds of ‘Techno Clique’ are set in a more minimalistic environment which gives space for the electronica in it’s distorted state to ring out in a freer fashion to form a brilliant piece of dance music. ‘Baby’s Eyes’ is over six minutes of heavy Chillwave with the heavily warped. but especially slowed synths bursting out in soundscapes in this piece of Electronic and Psychedelic crossover. The album is not one that will appeal to the senses immediately, yet as you take in the darker corners of the album you begin to appreciate the lavishness of it all and the various genres that you pick up along the way. It’s retro aesthetic masks some real intricacies and innovation behind it and that is the beauty of it.

Neon Indian – VEGA INTL. Night School = 8.5/10

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995