Verma — Sunrunner
≈••≈ Adventurous Chicago~based ensemble whose music embraces elements of Krautrock, prog rock, and updated psychedelia.
Styles: Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, Post~Rock, Space Rock, Neo~Prog
Location: Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Album release: May 27, 2014
Record Label: Trouble In Mind Records
1 Regolith 3:58
2 Chrome 3:57
3 Erato 2:51
4 The Traveller 4:29
5 Hologrammer 6:13
6 Sacrifice 4:21
7 Sunrunner 5:02
•• Nick Ciontea Cover Art
•• Matt Dewine Engineer, Mixing
•• Juan Santillan Engineer
•• Verma Composer, Cover Art, Engineer, Mixing, Primary Artist
•• Mikey Young Mastering
Review by Mark Deming ≈••≈ Score: ****
≈••≈ Sunrunner seems like a curious name for the third album from Chicago prog/psych ensemble Verma, since this is music that seems perfectly suited for late in the evening. The band’s loving homage to vintage prog and psychedelic sounds accurate enough that one can imagine a crowd of stoned college students listening to this as they stare at a laser light show at the campus planetarium in 1974, and if there was an album of the last 20 years that really should be accompanied by clouds of colored light, this is it. Which is not to sound dismissive; the insistent rhythms, the atmospheric keyboard lines, and the sheets of electric guitar thundering in the distance certainly look to the past, but the fire and imagination behind Verma’s music are fresh and compelling, and Sunrunner somehow manages to sound languid and physically powerful at the same time. Verma often drift off into electronic space, with Whitney Johnson and TJ Tambellini giving the tunes a suitably spacy tone with their keyboards, but bassist Rob Goerke and drummer Zach Corn keep this music rooted like a pulsebeat, and Johnny Caluya’s guitar solos add an organic touch that fits the songs well, as do Johnson’s vocals, which are often wordless sounds but feel eloquent in the context of this music. Sunrunner is more about atmosphere and sound than songs, but Verma do know how to create beautiful frameworks for their music, from the joyous drift through the spaceways of the title track to the noisy thunder of “Regolith” and the futuristic rock of “The Traveller” (well, it would have sounded futuristic at that planetarium show). As electric music for the mind and body goes, Verma are creating a rich, satisfying catalog of work, and Sunrunner is a trippy, fully formed triumph.
Artist Biography by Mark Deming
•• Conjuring forceful, evocative clouds of sound that drift over fields of insistent rhythm, Verma are a Chicago~based ensemble who’ve taken inspiration from classic prog rock, Krautrock, and psychedelic acts and fashioned a sound of their own that's by turns coolly languid and powerfully physical. Verma features Johnny Caluya on guitar and keyboards; Zach Corn on drums; Rob Goerke on bass; Whitney Johnson on vocals, keyboards, and viola; and TJ Tambellini on keyboards, guitar, and vocals. The group first made a name for themselves in 2010, when they self~released a pair of cassettes that caught the ears of discerning listeners, Verma and Salted Earth. A collection of improvised pieces, Verma II, was issued in the fall of 2011, and the group’s first proper album, EXU, was issued on vinyl and digitally in October 2012. The magazine and website Vice commissioned Verma to compose music for a documentary, The Vice Guide to the Congo, and two extended pieces from their score were issued in June 2013 on the album Coltan, which was released by the Chicago~based indie pop label Trouble in Mind. In May 2014, Verma and Trouble in Mind joined forces again to release their album Sunrunner; by this time, Tambellini’s involvement with the group was limited by his relocation to California, but he remained committed to Verma and the Chicago music scene. When not busy with Verma, Goerke and Tambellini perform in a side project called Wetlands (they also produce solo material), Johnson works with a band called E+ and has a solo project titled Matchless, Corn drums with Get Off the Cross the Wood Is Needed, and Caluya plays with Quarter Mile Thunder and Robbie Hamilton. ≈••≈ http://www.allmusic.com/
•• Coltan (June 4, 2013)
•• Sunrunner (May 27, 2014)