The title of VLNA‘s debut album brings to mind Ellen Meloy’s study The Anthropology of Turquoise, as well as Tobias Hellkvist’s album Turquoise, released last year. The color – and the mineral after which it is named – receive scant attention, but inspire dedication among enthusiasts. At one time, the copper / aluminum stone was considered a talisman, a protection against evil or untimely death. Popular both in mosques and Native American jewelry, turquoise also finds reflection in the shallow reefs of island communities.
An adaptive color that includes a spectrum of blue and green shades, turquoise is a symbol of the relationship between the two artists, both of whom wish to remain unnamed. The identity of one can be gleaned from the soft, sparse vocals, but the other is particularly well hidden. The album was created by file exchanges between nations, invisible threads running back and forth, connecting the artists and their music. These threads were woven into a tapestry of five tracks, sometimes shimmering blue and other times shimmering green. The shade one perceives depends on the angle of light.
Ambient guitar tones are present, along with light electronic crackle and copious amounts of violin. The first four tracks each contain a vocal expression – usually a single sentence – that contributes an element of sadness. The album begins with such an expression: “I just have opened the door of my frosty emptiness,” followed by layered wordless vox and sighing breath. It’s the sort of statement that one might expect from Android Lust (although this is not her) – a gothic resignation coupled with a continued desire to create beauty, as long as one lasts. The second track is even more stark: “Please tell me, is there any chance to live?” One can only imagine what the other party felt when receiving these words. After this, it’s just a whisper; someone is holding on by a very thin (turquoise) thread.
Even without these words, one intuits a dark undercurrent: the deep between the shore and the sand bar. “Turquoise Thread IV” contains a forlorn whistle, the sound of dampened hope. And yet, new textures keep appearing in the background, as if to say, notice, notice. As long as music is being passed between the nations, there is still something to hold onto. (Richard Allen)