The University of Nottingham’s very own VRBL (Elliot Noyes) has released an album; ‘Red Wine and Sleeping Pills’ consists of eight covers of original songs from the likes of Pink Floyd, Bjork, Radiohead and many more.
The opening track of the album, Takk (originally by Sigur Ròs), is a hauntingly beautiful two-minute instrumental. It begins as a soft, gradual build-up of shimmering synths, before strings and echoing vocals are layered over the top.
Wish You Were Here, a cover of the Pink Floyd classic, also begins as an instrumental track. However, VRBL’s vocals are then introduced around a minute and a half into the track. Much like the original song, the simple acoustic guitar instrumental allows the listener’s full focus to be on the vocals, a direct contrast to the solely instrumental album opener.
My Selfish Gene (originally by Catatonia) is a song which maybe isn’t as well known as the rest of the track-list. It again takes a different approach: this time, VRBL’s vocals are introduced immediately at the beginning of the track. Here, there is a slightly more complex instrumental, featuring a mixture of harsh, distinct piano keys, with a constant flow of understated synths to connect them together.
They demonstrate VRBL’s immense versatility when crafting both vocal and instrumental tracks
Avril 14th is a piano instrumental, much like the original track by Aphex Twin. The instrumental tracks on the album are a pleasant addition to the track-list – they demonstrate VRBL’s immense versatility when crafting both vocal and instrumental tracks, and his ability to play both the guitar and the piano to such a high standard is tremendously impressive.
VRBL takes Hurt, one of Nine Inch Nails’ most popular songs, and transforms it into his own. The original song has very unique sounding vocals, and here VRBL doesn’t try too hard to imitate this, but instead allows the strengths of his own voice to adapt the song. The emotion in his voice is at its most prominent here, specifically in the latter half, and it is a natural highlight of the album.
Unravel is a brave choice, since the song is originally performed by the female vocalist Bjork, yet VRBL doesn’t present any signs of concern at this. His male voice is surprisingly very well suited to the eerie nature of the track, and the addition of female backing vocals in the chorus only adds to this atmosphere.
VRBL is unafraid to take on some huge and iconic tracks from renowned and respected artists, and transform them into his own
Dawn Chorus (originally by Thom Yorke) is an example of a song where less is more, both in terms of the original and VRBL’s cover, which features a simplistic yet complementary piano instrumental. The closing track, True Love Waits, is another Thom Yorke cover, but this time in the form of a Radiohead song. The instrumental here is still piano based, but with many more intricate layers, varying in pitch.
The most impressive aspect of ‘Red Wine and Sleeping Pills’ is that VRBL is unafraid to take on some huge and iconic tracks from renowned and respected artists, and transform them into his own. Some artists would shy away from covering songs like these, due to the fact that many of them could be deemed ‘classics’, but VRBL’s bravery pays off, and it must be admired.
Featured image courtesy of Elliot Noyes, special permission to use image granted to Impact Magazine by Elliot Noyes. No changes were made to this image.
In-article images courtesy of @vrbl_music via Instagram. No changes were made to these images.
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