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The Van Allen Belt — Lactater-Tots
((Not on label) no#, 2004, CD)

by Jeff Melton, Published 2006-05-01

Lactater-Tots Cover artThe Van Allen Belt is the moniker taken by composer Troy Paiva, who wrote and performed ten tracks with Apple software packages that emulate basic rock and roll band instrumentation. Initial impressions recall a playful composer’s point of view that invokes works by Devo and They Might be Giants meshed with early Spock’s Beard or Kevin Gilbert’s later work. “Space Junk” opens the collection in a futuristic state where Paiva’s mode of delivery becomes easily apparent. His lead vocal and lyrical content reminds me a lot of Wall of Voodoo’s old singer Stan Ridgway (whatever happened to him?) with a bit of an extended drawl and a bit of tongue in cheek attitude. Following that up, “Creeper” captures a similar essence to many of Billy Currie’s forays into instrumental music after his work with Ultravox that is heavy on lush synthesizers, grand piano and programmed bass. “Suburban Tiki” captures much of the same attack with some creepy layered backing vocals eventually leading into fuzzy organ leads that work well within the private construct of the composer. The enhanced software package capabilities are quite surprising given the insulated scope of the individual performer which Paiva is comfortable to use. Despite a bit of mechanical percussion at times, the composer manages to flex his composer’s skills a lot as heard on trippy pieces such as “Psycho Synchromesh” that gets a bit tiresome due to some of the upfront synthesizers and digital mix. Closing out the disc is “Closer/Plasma” which ends the demo collection on a consistently high note. I’d be curious to hear how a full band arrangement of a few of these pieces would sound with the right supportive instrumentation.

Filed under: New releases, Issue 33, 2004 releases

Related artist(s): The Van Allen Belt

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