The Sweeping Sound and Ambition of Vanaprasta

Posted in MusicWorld on October 28, 2010 by

It’s a cool Saturday evening and just late enough for New York’s midtown skyline to be glowing behind Vanaprasta, who are a long, long way from home.

The Silver Lake, CA band played its final set of the city’s weeklong CMJ Music Marathon in epic fashion: privately, atop an 11-story condo in Brooklyn. After a week of sweaty, half-hour gigs in congested clubs, Vanaprasta finally managed a suitable setting for its immense sound, which eddied from the rooftop for blocks.

Formed in December of 2008, Vanaprasta is singer Steven Wilkin, guitarists Collin Desha and Cameron Dmytryk, bassist (and occasionally guitarist) Taylor Brown, plus drummer Ben Smiley. A rock band in the traditional, band-of-brothers vein, Vanaprasta finds propulsion from its meaty rhythm section and dual-guitar core, a necessary undercarriage for Wilkin’s distinctive vocal grit, which spans from elegant to downright powerful.

Now, closing their second year as a band and on the verge of releasing their first record, the members of Vanaprasta emphasize tending the finer points—refusing to rush the ascent. “We just haven’t found all the pieces perfectly yet… it’s so important to make the right career move,” remarked Desha after Vanaprasta’s first show for CMJ, a BMI showcase in Brooklyn.

Meticulousness pervades Vanaprasta’s music too. Anticipated in early 2011, the quintet’s debut, Healthy Geometry, is sonically layered and gleaming with sophistication: Balancing accessible melodies with explorative effects, it nods to guitar texturing fashioned by alt-rock exemplars like The Bends by Radiohead, while evoking the resounding atmospherics of Modest Mouse’s The Moon and Antarctica.

Standout track “G-” makes plain the searing capabilities of Wilkin’s dynamic vocals with its indelible, blues-scream chorus. Meanwhile, fan favorites like “Healthy Geometry” and “Color of Sin” set lighter vocal lines against bright, uplifting arrangements. Desha concludes, “[Healthy Geometry] took some time and a lot of people, but it’s perfect, it’s where we want it to be.”

Between the spring-released—and critically acclaimed—EP, Forming the Shapes, and a month-long residency at The Echo in Los Angeles last September, Vanaprasta has had ample opportunity to both define and realize its goals. Still, in looking ahead, Wilkin voices reservation as much as reverence: “It’s intimidating; we’re trying to join a league of really, really great music. I just hope we can find our place.”

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