(Photo: Ripley Johnson)
This spring Sanae Yamada, keyboardist for Moon Duo, will release her debut solo album as Vive la Void. The self-titled release is out May 4th on Sacred Bones and today she has shared a first track and accompanying video, “Red Rider”.
As Vive la Void, Yamada foregrounds synthesizers and her own voice, stripping away the excesses of psychedelic music to its bedrock hypnotic pulse and hazy atmosphere. Recording during the rare downtime between Moon Duo’s flurries of touring and recording, Vive la Void is dark and propulsive, and inspired by the strange and objective nature of memory and perception.
Today Vive la Void has shared a video for “Red Rider.” The video is a collaboration between the experimental playwright and theater director Tina Satter (of Half-Straddle), filmmaker Nick Zeig-Owens, costume designer Enver Chakartash and Vive la Void’s Sanae Yamada. It was shot over two days in Riverside, CA, with a cast that features performance artist Jibz Cameron (aka Dynasty Handbag), dancer and choreographer Jennie Liu (Grand Lady Dance House) and Screenwriter/Actor Guinevere Turner (Go Fish, The L Word, American Psycho, The Notorious Bettie Page). The project was conceived of as an incarnation of inner life as a physical place, and plays with the the idioms of music videos, dance, fashion, and feminine identity. Its about getting pulled into an obscure geography of the psyche and wandering among the unexpressed iterations of self that hang around there - the garden of hidden reality and its denizens.
Yamada wrote and recorded the self-titled debut Vive La Void album over roughly a two-year period, during windows of downtime in Moon Duo's substantial touring and recording schedule. The dense, shape-shifting atmospheres of the seven songs grew out of late-night basement experiments in the layering of synthesizer tracks, a process that also led to meditations on the changeable nature of memory and perception. The result is an undulating blend of ethereal swirl, low end thrumming, and electric crackle, buoyed by Yamada’s understated but captivating vocal melodies and her striking lyrics.
“The lyrics were a way of reckoning with my own memories and also of trying to process my reactions to the human situation,” Yamada explains. “I wanted the voice to have a kind of ghostly quality, to emerge from and recede back into the song, or to pass over it like weather. It's one of many layers of sound, which are meant to blend together in such a way that on one listen you might hear one thing, and on another listen you might hear something else, so the music seems to change even as it stays the same.”
Yamada has spent the last decade as a working musician, moving between semi-permanent home bases whenever she isn’t living in a tour van. In some ways, then, it feels inevitable that Vive la Void became a meditation on the strange rhythms of long-term touring, constant relocation, and the accompanying stream of brief but compelling encounters. It’s a testament to her empathy and creativity that these songs feel both specific and universal, familiar yet tantalizingly unknowable.
“I feel like the movement of life in the sphere of consciousness is this process of trace-leaving,” Yamada reflects. “Wherever we go, whomever we interact with, whatever we touch, we leave and absorb these invisible traces, this residue of memory that lingers. I wanted the sonic textures of this record to explore that state of being there and not there, of something being with you but not tangible.”
“Vive la Void” will be released on May 4th via Sacred Bones records and is available to pre-order here.