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Vajra: Pleroma

Pleroma, the debut album by Vajra, is a foreboding exercise in hypnotic pulses, Middle Eastern tension, and passionate singing. Its melodic accessibility complements its dark, critical tones well, and there is a sense of outrage and revolution throughout. It's not the most original or varied collection of songs, but its cohesion and zealousness make it an enjoyable ride and admirable effort nonetheless.

Vajra is the brainchild of Indian prodigy, Annamaria Pinna. A composer/singer/instrumentalist, Pinna began questioning the world around her at an early age, as well as starting playing violin and flute before she entered her double digits. She studied music theory at Julliard and believes that "there is divinity in creativity." According to her, Pleroma is an "exploration in paradox (east vs. west, soft vs. pummeling, female vs. male, etc)." Utilizing the talents of drummer Blake Fleming (ex-The Mars Volta), bassist Doug Wright (The Dark Pearls), and guitarist Will Dehl (ex-Harley's War), the band builds a colorful, bleak world with their music. From the outset of opening rocker "Inside the Flame," Vajra feels like the perfect mixture of Garbage, The Gathering, and Manooghi Hi. Indian chants and instrumentation mix with prog rhythms and guitar riffs, and Pinna's mixture of seductive directness and ghostly whispering is quite effective. "Almost One" is a slower and more thoughtful ballad, and "India" provides an almost monotone, calm bridge to the sitars and intense percussion of "Blind." It's like a musical volcano.

"Intuition" builds superbly to penetrating vocal collages, while "3.14" brings some delicate sorrow to the record with its strings, regretful melodies, and reflective atmosphere. "See Through You" concludes with prog metal crescendos, and the apocalyptic repetition of "Akkord Pleromy" offers a grand segue into closer, "The Apple." The longest song on the album, this track is probably the most gripping and complex. Once again, Vajra display great usage of dynamics as they pile on several layers before ending.

Pleroma is an exhausting listen (in a good way); it's packed with personal and musical urgency and tautness, as well as some impressive playing and interesting timbres. The tracks share some common sounds and approaches (which hinders the sense of surprise and uniqueness), but each song brings something worthwhile to the table. Most of all, Pinna's dedication to detail, composition, and expression shine throughout, conveying the fact that every note of Pleroma means something to her (even if it doesn't to us).

Track Listing
1. "Inside The Flame"
2. "Almost One"
3. "India"
4. "Blind"
5. "Intuition"
6. "Erode The Will"
7. "3.14"
8. "See Through You"
9. "Akkord Pleromy"
10. "The Apple"

Added: June 11th 2012
Reviewer: Jordan Blum
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 1710
Language: english

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