Subtropical Spin

Sad news: Vidavox's three-year run through Miami's indie-rock scene has come to a stop. Keys and bass man Carlos Vega has moved to the tundra of Michigan to pursue a Ph.D in (gasp!) mathematics, leaving drummer Jim Miller and guitarists Chris Salazar and Arnaldo Gonzalez with an 11-track album to peddle. The band's hiatus comes as no surprise -- Vidavox has performed an average of ten shows a year, and its EP, You Are Here, dates back to '02. However, the band's few stage performances have been memorable and engaging, drawing from a rich well of influences and techniques. Their appeal crosses genres with the expert craftsmanship of true artisans.

It's not easy being an instrumental troupe, especially one that doesn't default into senseless, acid-induced, three-hour Grateful Dead jams. Vidavox's EP worked as a nameless, nine-song assault of tweaked crescendos and varied tempo permutations that built one huge song while allowing the individual tracks to stand alone. The full length differs slightly from this concept in that it follows a more organic pattern: the ocean.

The disc opens with the soft, short, lullaby-styled "Hightide" before settling on a blueprint of flows and ebbs. "Preoccupation with Syncopation" is a series of warm expanses nestled by Asian-like musings. Indie rock erupts from "Kinematics" with a series of stunted industrial sounds, followed by the aptly titled "The Movement," which turns the album into a jazzier arena. "The Rise of Geometry," though short (two minutes), shows off Vidavox's many influences with hints of punk, jazz, surf, and indie rock coming through. The disc closes with a retooled version of the '02 EP's closer, here titled "Sumo" -- an excellent, Western-inspired surf jam that translates the album's entire inflection of rises and drops into a six-minute gem. With future shows promised to revolve around Vega's school schedule, here's hoping he visits often and is ready to take care of some homework.

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