von.E – Rehearsal 3

Von.E are a mysterious band. Apparently formed in 2018, their presence seems to consist entirely of live streaming a series of “rehearsals” from their hometown of Sendai in Miyagi Prefecture, with this album being a recording of the third. In that sense, Rehearsal 3 stands as a pretty much lone document and the sole context for the band’s existence, but it’s also a little misleading in its functional title and the general aura of jam session freshness it projects. For something supposedly recorded live in front of a few people in a rehearsal studio, the five drawn-out progressive rock epics that make up the album are surprisingly well recorded, while the songs themselves are intricately developed pieces, each passing through its own series of movements in a way that comes across as more or less composed (albeit with plenty of room for improvisational meandering too).

The ground that Von.E cover begins at the ponderous, spacious end of the spectrum on the opening Tansui, with the fourth track Hoodwink at the more driving, ferocious end. In this mix of motorik and virtuoso guitar abuse, there are as many echoes of Hawkwind as there are of the anti-solo distortion jams of a Yo La Tengo in the throes of a live climax, something reassuringly classic rock sitting alongside a 1990s noise-rock edge. The limitations of the live recording format mean that the sound never quite fills out in the way the music’s epic aspirations really want, but Rehearsal 3 is an unexpectedly rich statement of intent from a band otherwise shrouded in mystery.

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