Review Summary: A continuation of sorts from VAST's first record, albeit more refined
In the year 2000, as an 11-year-old growing up during the rise of internet music piracy, I was exposed to a lot of new music at once. Britney Spears and Eminem were set to reign supreme in the pop/rap charts, while nu-metal acts like Limp Bitzkit had strong control of the rock scene. Lost in the music of 2000 was this gem by Jon Crosby’s VAST. Luckily I had stumbled upon it, and it helped revolutionize my interests in music to this day.
Music for People
is the second record by VAST, coming two years after the eponymous record Visual Audio Sensory Theater
. The first record had a very distinct dark and gothic sound, full of lush melodies and chants. Chants that seemed to have origins from the Amazon to monks of some sort. Some tracks such as “Touched”, “I’m Dying” and “The Niles Edge” were defined by these chants.
Music for People
can be seen as a tempered form of the first record, as the chants are used less frequently and more wisely, to give an distinct flavor to the songs. The songs fit a more mainstream alternative rock sound than those from the first, making the individual songs more distinct. However, it does so without losing the signature VAST sound.
The record begins with “The Last One Alive”, which is notable in the music which combines sounds of landscapes, deep bass and more notable lyrics, which mention desecrating graves. “Free” is the most known track from the album, and had a music video, which frequented butterfly imagery. It sounds like it should be the album’s single, given the domineering sound, and lyrics about overcoming obstacles. Also notable is the confidence implied in this song; many VAST songs seemed to be about fears and giving up. “Free” seems to break this mold, which is common in VAST songs.
“I Don’t Have Anything” is a ballad about emptiness (see above mention of common VAST song themes). It is a song that gradually builds up and keeps its momentum through the song. This song is highlighted by the lyrics mostly, and music that has the VAST sound of epic landscapes. “The Gates of Rock N’ Roll” probably has the grooviest bass of any song on the record, but is less notable lyrically than the really good songs. It also has Jon Crosby attempting some chanting, which fits very well with the track.
“What Else Do I Need” seems to use a small female chant every so often as part of the music. It seems to be a song having elements and lyrics of bold ennui, and even includes a brief falsetto by Crosby. The song is more made by its lyrics and fitting “indifferent sound.” “Blue” is a track that sounds like its underwater, fitting as it mentions “going down with the ship.” It has a bit of piano throughout and even features some horns in the song. This track revolves calm sounds with heavy sounds in a good fashion, but keeps a low tempo feel throughout. The signature VAST sound of landscapes is heavily used in this track.
“Land of Shame” has a feel of verdant rolling hills and radiant sunshine. I don’t know why. This song has an unusual song structure, and doesn’t have the verse chorus refrain type structure. It just goes on. “A Better Place” is probably the weakest track on the album, but has landscape sounds and lyrics about desperation, which are consistent with VAST songs in this record.
“Song Without a Name” is one of the best tracks on this record. It features a consistent chant in the music and has catchy hooks throughout. And well-used lyrics. “We Will Meet Again” is a song about death, but could work in series finales and graduations. Probably has the most moving feel of any song, and has a foggy ambiance.
“My TV and You” is a groovy little track that seems to discuss TV and a woman in a song for the first time in music history. It has a similar feel to “What Else Do I Need” in its laziness. “Lady of Dreams” seems to be a classical instrumental that acts as a coda.
I went through every track without giving a good reason why this album was revolutionary to me. Simply put, it had an impact of my music listening interests. For one, it made me like alternative rock music in the way it is alternative. Rock music with a different sound than the traditional glam rock or hair metal. I began to listen to more diverse types of music thanks to this. Also, this record just made me interested in music in general.
1. The Last One Alive - 10
2. Free - 10
3. I Don’t Have Anything - 10
4. The Gates of Rock N’ Roll - 9
5. What Else Do I Need - 10
6. Blue - 10
7. Land of Shame - 9
8. A Better Place - 7
9. Song Without a Name - 10
10. We Will Meet Again - 9
11. My TV and You – 9.5
12. Lady of Dreams - 8
Cohesiveness – 7.5 – Some songs have a landscape-like feel, while others rely on a strong bass backing.
Album Cover – 7 – Snake into a flower. The imagery involving the “Free” single and butterflies is pretty cool though.
Upshot – I probably rated everything higher just because this record features some of my favorite songs of all time, due to my liking VAST at a young age. The songs are more accessible than those on the first record, and interesting to listen to for rock music fans.