It’s been more time than we would like since we checked in on Screen Vinyl Image, one of the first bands ever to tolerate our ridiculous interview questions – though truth be told, they’re never far from our mind (as evidenced by the Screen Vinyl Image t-shirt that remains in heavy rotation).
Their second LP for the Custom Made Music label is titled “Strange Behavior,” an album we’ve managed to fall in love with despite not immediately feeling anything particularly strange about the duo’s behavior on the songs contained within. Admittedly, when it comes to music, we largely love the strange – the odd, the unusual, the music that grows and flourishes along the edges of the less traveled path. When Screen Vinyl Image marries the strange with the seductive – as they do repeatedly, remarkably on “Strange Behavior” – the resulting sound is so massive, so all-enveloping that their chaos becomes your comfort. Resistance is less than futile – after the first song, it’s a concept completely forgotten.
There’s nothing to resist when it comes to being immediately stricken by the space-age, streamlined, light-speed lament of opener “We Don’t Belong,” an appropriately awesome anthem for walking that less traveled path previously mentioned. The sound is the sound of Screen Vinyl Image – as pretty as it is prickly, as prone to a scream as a synth, super-sonically engineered immersions into sky-gaze grandeur that you can also dance to (even if you also dance with the grace of old farm equipment). “Revival” comes next, finding the duo rising from the (45) grave, the gruesome guitars now completely covered in a snarling, stinging shell.
Halfway through the near eight minutes of “Stay Asleep,” Screen Vinyl Image descends into a swirling, static-stained, vendetta-violence breakdown, bridging the gap between Jesu and The Jesus and Mary Chain so capably, so crushingly, it’s as if a gap never existed. The pulse of the distorted beat presses onward, breaking through all manner of neck-snapping noise, until “My Confession” reveals a strange, somber solace.
Only here do we begin to reflect on the title “Strange Behavior,” forcing our stubborn ears to remember that this is strange behavior – in the routine and robotic world, most people don’t make songs like Screen Vinyl Image and even fewer people listen to them. In that routine and robotic world, quite happily, “We Don’t Belong.”