Indiangold Records, Mexico
by Carlos Reyes
For all those kids modifying the preposition in Drake's advising line on “overdosing on confidence,” here we have an album that spells its title on a potential upshot: a dumb death. Okay, referencing something as arguable as a dumb death through a rap line isn’t the most fitting way to start a review of a former member of Maniqui Lazer, but this is the kind of unmatched-to-this-scene record that merits a significant amount of editorial stretching. And, indeed, Torres’ latest album under the Vampire Slayer moniker is one that will probably do better with publications that don’t carry the pop voucher in their jingle. But that doesn’t mean we’re completely oblivious to it - its rhythm sections alone warrant ample enthusiasm.
Under the punk institution of Maniqui Lazer (which keeps going back and forth about its breathing status), Valentin Torres became known as the man responsible for adding the lasers to the band’s mutinous plate. Vampire Slayer goes full throttle when it comes to spreading new seeds. The perfectly timed Dumb Death is a wide-ranging collection of digital schemes put to varied use. From the horizontal alignment of synth chords in “Lofi Sky” to the lashing of triad progressions in “Creepy Monkey,” Vampire Slayer’s posture comes off as sadistic, and you know that outcome usually makes for a double-edged sword. By moving away from the gasping essence of mannequins, Torres encounters a more liberal and scaled-to-the-beats terrain and, although exhaustive at times, the experience shifts towards completion more often than not.
With Bandcamp tags that go from drone to improv, Vampire Slayer does not shy away from its resources. If anything, Dumb Death is so in-collision with its own narratives that an accusation of self-indulgence would only be conflicting. As a pop devotee, I resonate with Slayer’s torching glam, but also crave for something more. The lack of bold vocal decoding here is almost cruel. But, again, I’m the kind of consumer that will always pick the heart-lifting John Maus over the almost infertile Fuck Buttons. Those with a thick skin for anything but pop structures aren’t completely out of luck; in its last breath, the album does escalate its functions with the alluring closing numbers, “Bffs” and “Bathroom Melody.” Structurally, it’s perhaps too late for an accessible experience but, as the history of lo-fi has taught us, gradual albums can be fun too. Dumb Death may be narrowed in accessibility, but it’s wide open for interpretation.