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Viva K Review
By Dan Upton

I'm just not sure what to make of Viva K. Formed in 2003, the four-piece group combines industrial dance beats and synth lines with live bass, guitar, vocals, and even sitar. The promo text comments that the CD combines the droning style of ragas with the aggressiveness of punk. At the surface at least this all sounds promising, bringing an exotic instrument in with punk stylings and the nearly limitless possibilities of electronic programming. Unfortunately, it just doesn't quite live up to the potential.

Don't get me wrong, there are a number of fun songs to be found on Viva K's debut. The opening track "Guru" is what originally caught my attention, with busy drums, ever-present guitar, and heavily processed vocals lending a sense of urgency. "No Better Time" fades in with the same synth as Rush's "Tom Sawyer" and leads to a fun dance groove, and it's hard not to get caught up in songs like "We Are Safe" and "Love Everybody." On the other hand, the droning quality of the music and lack of volume dynamics makes it easy to completely zone out and miss large portions of songs. On many of the tracks, this counters any sense of energy or power from the drums and guitars. Likewise, Ween Callas's processed vocals work well in the context of some songs, but on other songs they seem gimmicky, overdone, and eventually simply irritating.

Overall, this disc is rather hit or miss, with a few catchy songs, a few that would serve well as background noise, and a few that simply deserve skipping every time they come on. There are definitely hints of potential for the band, but as it stands, the droning industrial-punk-raga thing leaves something to be desired. If you're intrigued, check it out, just keep your stereo remote handy to switch to something more dynamic before you completely zone out.

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