Hydra Head reissued the sole VSS album, Nervous Circuits, last week and a magazine I contribute photos to tapped me for some shots of them to coincide. My first reaction was a cynical 'people still care enough about this band to gamble with reissuing them?' since they broke up over a decade ago and realistically, probably only sold a fraction of what the average HH release does now (not a dis at all). My second reaction was 'wow, was that really over a decade ago?'

When they first appeared in the mid-90s, The VSS were notable for containing members of Angel Hair (though they may now be better known for becoming the Sub-Pop band Pleasure Forever), a band I was a bit too young and not quite cool enough to catch when they played at a local punk house a few years prior. Everyone I've ever talked to about it spoke of that show as a legendary event, and I never really got over missing it. Now, more than ten years later, I have great memories of that whole time, but Angel Hair, The VSS, and all the other Gravity Records-related or influenced bands of the 90s.. hell, 1990s 'post-hardcore' in general, are the furthest thing from my mind.

Digging up the negs and getting them printed led me to dig up my VSS EPs (I always thought the early EPs were far superior to the album) as well and re-evaluate them. Little things like the synth touches and the delay on the vocals (and if you saw them live, the DIY lightshow that Sonny controlled) made the VSS stand out against the sea of generic post-hardcore bands of the 90s. The passage of time has only made this much more apparent. What's surprising though is how the songs sound in the late 00s. Comparing post-hardcore bands to 80s post-punk bands like Joy Division, Bauhaus, or Wire was a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy that was very popular back then, but you can definitely hear echoes of that time in the VSS, and despite this, it all stills sounds fresh to my ears today. I can't say that too much else of that era has aged very well. I expected to listen to the songs once and file them away for another few years or more but I've found myself spinning them repeatedly in the last week.

The show? If you can believe it, some friends and I trekked to Fargo, North Dakota for it. It was one of those where other than the promoter, his girlfriend, and the other bands, we were the only people there for the show. This (and many other things) made for a weird vibe, but the VSS and their light show threw down a killer set. They only played one or two EP tracks, the rest being new songs. This was late spring 1997, right around the release of Nervous Circuits. They broke up weeks later.

Anyway, here are a few tracks from the second EP, and an Echo & The Bunnymen cover from the posthumous split EP with Rye Coalition.

I Cut My Teeth (from Gravity 25 EP, 1996)

Cosmic Retribution (from Gravity 25 EP, 1996)

No Hands (from split 2X7" EP with Rye Coalition, 1998)

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