The breathtaking underground – 1947 by vert:x

The first time I heard a vert:x track was on Dandelion Radio during its 2012 Festive Fifty. Festive Fifty was originally an annual list of best songs voted by John Peel’s listeners on BBC Radio 1. After Peel’s death, the BBC continued the tradition for a while and when they ended it the internet-based Dandelion Radio decided to carry it on. The 2012 edition included names like Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Savages, Pussy Riot, Public Image Ltd., Tame Impala and many others among which vert:x made it into the Top 10.

The song was ‘Full Fathom Five’, a lengthy (16 minutes) instrumental piece of art. Very slow and very heavy, its sound synthesizer diffuses layers of distorted noise over a recurring electronic beat, its guitars and bass sculpt a steady downtempo melody: hypnotic; visceral; synesthetic; irresistible. This is the song to listen on a never-ending loop. I don’t want to count how many times I have listened to it; it might amount to weeks.

I started searching straight away for more vert:x. Intriguingly enough, there was not much online at that time. And by ‘not much’ I mean almost nothing except from ‘1947’, the album containing ‘Full Fathom Five’, streamed by a small but courageous digital label, Unwashed Territories. Welcome to the sweet underground!

On the same album you can also find a 5-minute radio edit version of ‘Full Fathom Five’, but since the almost repetitive song structure does not lift off from simple repetition, a lot of charm is lost in this shortened version. ‘Cathedral’ on the other hand is even longer than ‘Full Fathom Five’. Expect an opening of high-pitched metallic distortions on which the rhythm is built with beats, reverbs and dissonant layers. The atmosphere is more mystical and lugubrious, on top of which the keyboards add a dramatic effect with their doomed battle for harmony.

Could vert:x have made such an impression on me with any other song than ‘Full Fathom Five’? Retrospectively, I cannot say. Now I know that vert:x discography counts more than just an album I randomly stumbled upon. I count at least 3 studio albums and another digital release, if I didn’t miss anything. Each discovery makes it more and more clear that behind this vert:x sound there’s further magic than just a solid space and krautrock background. Something original, something alive is being woven.




a.f.m.o.m.a.h.e. (2007)
ggantija (2009)
transmission u.t. (2011) streaming on Unwashed Territories
1947 (2012) streaming on Unwashed Territories
The Mindstealers (2014)

vert:x LIVE

Full Fathom Five

YOUTUBE playlist:

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