KEXP has loved Portland duo Viva Voce for many year. After the release of their newest record, 2011′s The Future Will Destroy You, Kevin and Anita Robinson stopped in for a fantastic live session before playing a full set at the Triple Door. A couple years before that, they played tunes from Rose City at the KEXP bar-be-que. Even further back in 2004, they recorded an entire live EP here at KEXP. Long story short, we’ve got a lot of love for this fantastic Portland band.
As we eagerly await the release of The Robinsons, Kevin and Anita’s newest collection of heart songs due out early next year, this week, the band gives a great treat to pass the time with. The band has curated Artifaktz: 1997 - 2001, a wonderful collection of super old-school Viva Voce tracks. After their inception in 1997, the band experimented with a variety of styles and sounds before finding the psychedelic mixture of quiet and loud we saw on their wonderful proper introduction Lovers, Lead the Way!. Artifaktz collects the best of the early years into a wonderful trip back into the late 1990s, giving us an audible history of their journey.
Artifaktz opener “Beautiful” is one of the oldest Viva Voce tracks, appearing on their 1997 debut cassette and their first real LP Hooray For Now, which appeared on Cadence in 1998. Shortly after, the label went under, taking with them a lot of the Robinsons’ faith in the business end of record labels. “Free Like I Was Meant to Be” and “The Writings on the Wall” hail from the band’s first homespun wonder, the Weightless EP (which also hosts their excellent cover of the Cure’s “Lovesong”. With Weightless, the Robinsons started their own label Amore!Phonics, which now gives home to a handful of Portland bands. Ever since then, Viva Voce has seen no reason to conform to any path set before them by the industry. Thus, the rest of Artifaktz gives us a glimpse at the steps they’ve taken in blazing their own trail and becoming a truly great band. “Dragstrip ’99″, a minute instrumental jamout recorded live in the Robinson house, with no frills, no overdubs, and very little post-production. It’s just Anita throwing down on guitar and Kevin pounding out a killer backing beat. And speaking of wailing guitar, “Fear of Flying” reminds us of how much Anita can blaze when she wants to. The intro riff is mosh inducing, while the verse is as spacey and tripped out as anything on Lovers, Lead the Way!. The mixture makes for a memorable single and a live show fantasy. Finally, closer “All Daughters Raise Your Hands” saw the Robinsons begin to experiment with noise and sampling to make a fun and groovy little jam out only a handful of pieces.
Listen to a couple Artifaktz cuts over at the Amore!Phonics website. You can also grab the whole album there or on iTunes or Amazon. You should also visit their website to check out an awesome digital photo album of Artifaktz era Viva Voce. Finally, make sure to check out The Robinsons, Kevin and Anita’s new project dropping a full length early in 2013.