It's easy to get lost in "Home for Home," the debut EP from San Diego "nu stargaze" experimentalists Vákoum. Unhindered by generic formats and formulaic pop constraints, the group oozes originality.
Comprised of multi-instrumentalists/producers Kelli Rudick and Natalia Padilla (who initially met in New York City and began playing together in 2013), the duo's first proper release is the stuff that legendary careers are established on. While I don't want to get lost in hyperbole, it's not difficult to see the promise in "Home for Home."
Each song is mind-scrambling complex -- featuring electronic accoutrements over razor-sharp live drums, plinking pianos, spacial synthesizers, bone-dry electric guitar, and the pair's angelic vocals (which are occasionally sampled into strange glitches and often harmonized together).
While Rudick and Padilla count Cocteau Twins and Massive Attack as influences, they're called upon only remotely here. Tracks like "Still Ready" and "ICE" may head into atmospheric territories plotted by those iconic groups but Vákoum sidestep the easy pitfall of simply modeling their own music after their heroes -- instead, they swerve into stranger arrangements with even more eclectic instrumentation and increasingly odd time signatures.
That's a tricky move for any artist, and it makes this EP all the more fascinating: "Home for Home" seems designed with precision accuracy (if you've seen the group live, that's very obvious) but at the same time, it's wholly propelled by true experimentalism -- like all four tracks were results of spontaneous mistakes that were somehow perfected into something new and glorious.
What a breath of fresh air.