Album Review: lures by velmuh

 In Features, Reviews

Diving into the world of lures is initially an easy commitment. The opening track immediately draws listeners into a captivating blend of droning ambiance and buzzing recordings–a recurring motif across countless genres, from progressive chamber rock to gritty grunge punk. That interplay of phone messages also evokes the influential impact of Laurie Anderson’s “O Superman,” infusing the narrative with an enigmatic quality that sparks a jittery dialogue, both spoken and implied.

Unexpectedly, the tranquil atmosphere abruptly gives way to turbulent unrest in the album’s second track–a sudden tonal shift marked by a rippling wave of warbles that provokes intriguing alarm. With the accessible entry point of the opening track now blocked off, it becomes clear that lures is not merely a passive and calming auditory experience but rather an immersive journey with soothing highs and jagged lows that warrant active engagement.

Within this contrast lies the genius of the auteur Amber Bouchard, who, under the moniker velmuh, adeptly harmonizes the dissonant balance between ambient disorder and classical precision. Captivating intrigue adorns the eclectic soundscapes of lures, fractured in some moments with shifty construction and seamlessly cohesive in others. It’s a record brimming with adventurous artistry, one that follows a versatile approach to avant-garde songwriting and recording.

Mastered by fellow experimental musician Will Mullany, with whom Bouchard has collaborated in the experimental collective foil and the churning trio Generator Group, as well as its predecessor, the motorized Generator Organ Ensemble, lures develops with precise perplexity, an apt design for a record named for camouflaged bait. Originally self-released by velmuh in 2023, lures has recently been re-issued by Philadelphia label No Rent which specializes in experimental music and is exposing the cagey album to a broader audience more attuned to its veiled disclosures.


When listening to lures, echoes of James Joyce’s Ulysses reverberate all around, presenting an art piece replete with arcane references and perplexing suggestions that linger in the mind long after their initial encounter. The interplay of darting noises and babbling murmurs undoubtedly carries meaning and purpose, yet their significance remains obscured within the intricate mix. So buried they are, it’s futile to discern what the original purpose is without having Bouchard break down the record, quarter-note by quarter-note, like a press conference following the pivotal sequence in a championship game. Our own interpretations inevitably arise. Is the play between tranquil and stormy a sonic allusion to the tethered contrasts between Leopold Bloom and Stephen Dedalus? Is this a long-form deconstruction of yearning passion? Is it all an ill-configured abrasion, as the opening composition suggests?

Probing deeply enough may yield answers, akin to a scholar elucidating the myriad allusions within Joyce’s seminal work. However, these revelations may lose their initial allure upon subsequent listens, disrupting the mystic fourth wall. While a framework can be constructed, reminiscent of the guidance Joyce offered his peers before completing Ulysses, such an outline allows for varied interpretations, maintaining the tantalizing ambiguity that defines the work’s allure.

This distinction is crucial, for what lures offers is a sonic journey worth revisiting. It sparks introspection, a rhythmic stream of consciousness that captivates, diverting attention from the emergence of new tones or pitches. By the time one nearly grasps a fleeting moment, it has already dissipated. Yet, as subsequent distractions emerge, they veil other intriguing motifs, transforming from an infectious earworm into a captivating enigma.

Evoking curiosity and commanding attention with nebulous timbre, lures fascinates with each twist and turn of its musical narrative. Similar to Ulysses, it lingers in the subconscious, plotting to draw nearer to the next replay to offer further guidance and intensity. However, while Ulysses is a tome best suited for consumption over multiple sittings, lures unfolds within a brisk half-hour, manipulating time through both prolonged explorations and concise revelations. This characteristic only amplifies the enticement of revisiting, as each playthrough promises additional insights, drawing listeners closer to harmonizing their own blend of disorder and precision, something Bouchard has already mastered here on lures.

Lures is available now, digitally on Velmuh’s Bandcamp page and also on limited edition cassette tapes through No Rent.


Start typing and press Enter to search