Vampire Weekend’s Two-Hour Guitar Teaser Sounds Pretty Good
The first music we’re hearing from Vampire Weekend’s fourth LP comes via a YouTube video entitled “120 Minutes of Harmony Hall Guitars,” which is just what it sounds like: a two-hour loop of a guitar part, presumably taken from a new song entitled “Harmony Hall.” According to the Vampire Weekend Twitter account, both that tune and another entitled “2021” will be released on Thursday.
Teasing the new music in this way after a five-year break between albums does feel a little trolly, but it’s enough to give you some small idea of what “Harmony Hall” might sound like, and it’s a promising glimpse. The part, played on what sounds like two harmonized acoustic guitars, is straightforwardly quite pretty, ascending a short distance and then spiraling back down before making the climb again. It’s a little more fleet-fingered and showy than what you might expect from VW, and hearing it on such a long loop might put you in the mind of minimalist music. The hypnotic runtime, and the essential guitaryness of it all (that’s a technical term), might give those of us who sit at the center of the Vampire Weekend/Grateful Dead fandom Venn diagram reason to hope that the band’s recent flirtations with jam aesthetics are more than just for show. (The band also published a handy guitar tab for those who want to play along themselves.)
But who knows! Maybe this is just five seconds of a song that otherwise sounds completely different. And for what it’s worth, it’s not exactly two straight hours of the same thing: there’s a little vocal sample at 20:21, a vibraslap hit that comes in at around 50 minutes, something like a choral preset on an old digital keyboard droning behind the whole second hour, and a spoken word snippet at 1:33:52. “I think I took myself too serious,” the person can be heard saying. “It’s not that serious.” Finally, the image accompanying the clip is a variation on the Tree of Life diagram from the Kabbalah, labeled “The Sacred Tree of the Sephiroth,” which may or may not be a Final Fantasy VII reference.
What does it all mean? Listen below and decipher for yourself. According to Ezra Koenig, the full album, whose title initials are FOTB, is coming sometime soon, with several new songs dropping before the release.