Experimental London trio Vision Fortune took part in a long artist's residency in Tuscany, Italy for the recording of the songs that made up their sophomore album, Country Music. Though always prone to boundary-pushing use of synthesizers and electronics, there were particular limitations in the remote villa where the bandmembers camped out for months working on their album -- namely a minimal amount of recording equipment and the maddening isolation that set in as the weeks turned into months. Both of these factors contribute heavily to the thick tension of Country Music. Dropping some of the more rockist tendencies of its earliest songs, the band presents a far more bleak and spacious take on pop over the course of the album's 12 tracks. Beginning with the sparse, housey kick drum that drives "Blossom," fragments of synths, vocals, and various samples rise up and are instantly cut off as the song unfolds. Off-key vocals that sound like they're calling from another room fill the corners as a sampled church bell clicks in time with the rest of the song. The uneasy, warbling approach is reminiscent of Drum's Not Dead-era Liars, though Vision Fortune take a far more stripped-down, nearly minimal techno approach. Found sound samples become the basis for many of these tunes, from the grating glitched-out room sounds that clutter "Habitat" to the samples of clicking sticks and washes of water that form the claustrophobic rhythm of album closer "Back Crawl II." Most interesting is the way that the garishly electronic elements interact with live, roomy-sounding drumming, juxtaposing the wide-open feel of drummer Andreas Cuatroquesos' post-rock rhythms with plastic-sounding digital noise. Country Music manages to have very little going on in its sonic landscape but still radiates an overwhelmingly dense feeling. There's a distinct stir-craziness to the album, feeling by the end far more like a haunted house than an idyllic bungalow.
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AllMusic Review by Fred Thomas