Vast Caldera is the musical project of Justin Weiss, who will officially drop his debut EP, Vast Caldera 1, on September 1. The album blends electronic-rock with elements of prog-rock into tasty concoctions of sound rippling with psychedelic colors.
Speaking to the EP, Justin says, “Every track should be a journey that takes you to the horizon and back. The goal from day one was to capture the type of guitar riffs that I loved from the ‘70s and ‘80s and infuse it with the modern soundscape of electronic music.”
Justin began his musical journey while on a family road trip. Picking up his father’s iPod, he listened to the music his dad had downloaded: Led Zeppelin, Metallica, and Jimi Hendrix. When they got home, Justin took off on another trip: a 10-year voyage of learning to play the guitar.
Later, in college, he came across electronic music – Pretty Lights and Bassnectar. Naturally, he began learning how to make music using electronic equipment, followed by venturing into writing his own music.
Transforming riffs into songs transformed Justin’s life. His musical vision expanded and then focused on an idea, the concept of Vast Caldera. The objective was to merge the rock riffs he’d heard on his father’s iPod with the atmospheric pulsations of electronic music. Ensconcing himself in his NYC apartment, he took off on a dazzling adventure, whose first stop is Vast Caldera 1.
Embracing five-tracks, the EP begins with “Romance,” opening on gorgeously elegant piano notes topped by accenting chimes flowing into a dual-layered harmonic offering: on one level, thrumming electronic suffusions; on another level, a starkly searing guitar.
“Adamant” travels on strident colors, followed by the dark hues of the guitar. There’s a hint of industrial filaments running through the harmonics, injecting the tune with edgy spectral tension. “Glory” features trembling tones segueing into a jazz-funk-lite feel and mood, awash in layers of coloration.
“Nightfall” glimmers and then dives into shadowy textures topped by luminous shimmers of pigmentation, interweaving on sumptuous leitmotifs. The final track, “Dawn,” rides forth on sparkling surfaces transitioning into shuddering waves of sound chock-full of fresh surging energy.
The best tracks on Vast Caldera 1, from a subjective viewpoint, are “Romance” and “Nightfall.” Yet all the tracks are beautifully wrought.