Article by: Angela Suico | Photo Credit: Melissa Madison Fuller | Posted: 04/17/2012
Many artists start out in a band and later strike out solo, but Gabraham Vitek is taking the opposite track. Originally headlining alone with his rich vocals and sleek piano stylings, this Ohio-born Nashvillian is today a member of VITEK, a seven-member band mixing pop, rock and soul that released its first album, Kaleidoscope, last Friday.
Vitek says that being part of a band has been his goal for a long time. “I've always wanted [my music] to be a band thing, instead of just me and a band. I guess it just took seven years of being in this city to get around the right people that made sense.”
The “right people” were individuals who originally toured with Vitek during his solo career. Drummer Scott Shirock, bassist Brady Surface, and saxophonist Anthony Jorissen performed with Vitek for two and a half years, while vocalists Lydia Elise and Whitney Coleman and trumpeter Robert Gay joined Vitek one year ago, performing songs from his 2010 EP Soular Flares. At the time, however, the group also “started playing around with some of the ideas that are on this new album,” and the end product is an edgy blend of sounds ranging from funk to jazz to pop—surprisingly, with no guitar to be heard whatsoever, an absence that the band embraces.
“I think [the absence of a guitar] is something that we intend on keeping…for as long as we can,” says Vitek. “Brass takes care of any power that comes from a guitar.” And indeed, Gay’s trumpet punctuates tracks like the hyper “Legs” and the smooth “Night Bender,” giving them a fresh, surprising sound.
Besides its rejection of the guitar, another unique aspect of VITEK is its method of songwriting via voice mail. “I feel like any time I ever write a song I'm the furthest away from an instrument possible,” says Vitek. “And so I'm always like humming these ideas in my phone. It's either that, or we'll be calling each other and leaving each other voicemails. That's pretty much how every song on the last record was written.”
“Kaleidoscope” is a fitting title for a collection of songs made in such a way: disparate elements blending together to make an interesting yet coherent work of art. The name can further apply to the album’s variety, which results from the marriage of songs that equally emphasize words and music to more instrument-focused tracks with few lyrics. “‘Til she’s tired” are the only words Vitek sings over the beautifully simple piano of “Cloud 9,” while the titular first track carries a similarly effective minimalism. These songs contrast with tracks like the aforementioned “Legs,” which contains a frenetic quality, as if a dam holding back the band’s energy burst and “Legs” was the result.
The theme of different elements forming a cohesive whole is even more apparent when Vitek describes the collective energy guiding the band’s collaborative efforts. “We all wrote the album and…no one’s stepped on each other’s toes. There’s this power that's over all of us that we all have to submit to…[and] it’s working for us. We’re feeding something that is not physically tangible.”
Kaleidoscope, then, is a varied yet harmonious combination of several different ideas, sounds and artists. Which just goes to show you that writing songs over voicemail isn’t a bad idea.
VITEK - "Kaleidoscope"