The Van Allen Belt are quite unlike any other band you’ll hear this year (or any year for that matter) and your first impression could well be quite different from the one you harbour after several listens. When I bask in their lavish productions I always think of Motown (a peculiarly indie brand it must be said). Now my knowledge of that particular genre isn’t exactly stellar but there ain’t no mountain high enough to dispel those thoughts. The other thing that’ll strike you about the Pittsburgh collective is their lyrics which are soaked in a most cerebral brand of satire (reminise about that soundtrack to ‘The Life of Brian’). So while you style your beehive you’ll chuckle at the gloriously lobbed potshots emanating from your stereo. ‘Meal Ticket To Purgatory’ is a hugely ambitious work and one you may struggle to digest in one sitting but there are modern classics peppered throughout. The album was originally released in 2007 but we believe it deserves a second airing and a much wider audience. The Van Allen Belt are currently putting the finishing touches to their sophomore so this should keep you entertained until it arrives. The download bundle comes complete with the music, artwork and lyrics.
Here is Ben from the band and his version of events that lead to the recording of this album.
‘I began working on PURGATORY shortly after I was fired from the bar I had worked at. After performing for a couple years in avant-garde acts that seemed to change names every show, I wanted to do something more accessible. Perhaps, something I could live off of. So I recruited 3 musicians I’d worked with the previous year on an awful experimental album and set off to make something “listenable”. Tamar Kamin had worked with me a few times before on soundtracks, but never anything with lyrics. Scott Taylor was a longtime friend and film school classmate. And Martine Mancini had also been a friend for a while and, of all things, the former roommate of the girl who never moved to Vancouver with me.
The first cut we finished was ‘So It Goes’. When we recorded it I was actually living paycheck to paycheck, and unemployment checks at that. I was also working as a lousy freelance videographer and the payments always seemed delayed. People often ask “How did you make Meal Ticket…?” The answer: by borrowing money from friends and sponging off well intentioned people. And then eventually, I had to deliver pizzas again. When I was working, I kept the radio off. It was on the road that I wrote many of the lyrics. When we recorded ‘Alaska Dreamin’’ I really was a pizza guy.
The first mix of ‘So It Goes’ was a little rough, and it became a multiple draft process. In the meantime, we recorded the next two, ‘Charity Sex’ and ‘Way Up’. A moment I will never be able to relive, was the first time I played back ‘Way Up’ and the beat kicked in. It was when I knew we were doing something special.’
‘it can still cause a thrill even after a few listens; a testament to the durability of these wonderfully odd songs’
‘this is pure mental brilliance’
‘a pleasant, freak-out surprise’
‘as much as it sometimes sounds retro I can’t escape the feeling that the Van Allen Belt are somehow going to form the crux of the future’
‘not sure exactly how to describe it’