Nothing about this album is what it seems. As the four deep bass notes that kick it off should reveal, the songs herein are about as far away from country music as you can get. This former trio/now duo instead takes musical comfort in post-punk’s darker corners and the foreboding burble of dub. And while the lovely Italian manse featured on the cover is where Vision Fortune were ensconced to record, the music that came out of the experience has a gray pallor and a sour mood.
The soupy, fogged-up sound of Country Music is also a continuation of the radical shift that the band was going through leading up to these sessions in Tuscany. The crumbly rock of their debut Mas Fiestas con el Grupo Vision Fortune has been replaced with electronic-based explorations kept rooted by drummer Andres Cuatroquesos’ breakbeats. What guitar is evident on the album (particularly during the closing minute of the unnerving “Stalker”) has been processed all out of recognition. It’s a move they played with on their 2013 mixtape Titanic Part II, and that they’ve fully committed to, and brought more focus to with album No. 2.
As an album, Country Music works on a very similar principle. The first two-thirds of it are a haze with sounds and movement slowly becoming clear before it quickly turns fuzzy and less distinct again. “Cleanliness” starts off with a pinging programmed beat, wispy backwards-tracked guitar lines, and the harmony vocals of brothers Alex and Austin Peru. At about the halfway mark of this nearly four-minute song, the whole thing starts to swallow itself, the drum machine straining to hold the amorphous blobs of sound together. “Ties and Bound” follows suit with a stutter-step drum beat and screeching noises that are pushed aside by a faltering, bass-heavy drum machine.
By the time the last three tracks come around, the band is apparently ready to meld their former and current selves into one musical homunculus. Closing track “Broken Teeth II” feels like an early Vision Fortune track as remixed by a particularly dusted reggae soundsystem, and “New Jack City” and “Broken Teeth” vibe as dangerously as a Fugazi instrumental slowed down 300 percent.
Listening to the band move so adroitly through these songs, it’s apparent that Country Music is perfectly sequenced. And like Titanic Part II, it makes little sense to pluck out individual tracks for occasional nibbling. This is an album that is custom-built to be experienced in one 41-minute sitting, either with a pair of headphones on marveling at every sonic swan dive or laid in the background to guide you through a task. In either setting, Vision Fortune is your ideal soundtrack.