Will Not Fade - The Late Album Review
Lead single “No Arms No Chocolate” discusses horrific ways to perish and the futility of life. Life goes on… or rather it doesn’t. So it goes.
I love the pacing of it – very driven with lots of pulsing stabs of rhythm. It sweeps you up and takes you for a ride. A rip-roaringly cheerful nihilism anthem.
Infinite Jest - George Henderson Reviews The Late Album
Vorn’s métier is the humorous song, so it’s a black comedy, but black comedy has long been a feature of his work and he has no trouble showing us round his current, and our future, prospects while making the kind of wisecracks that are how the light gets in.
The Late Album
In 2017 the Vorn band recorded album no. 8, The Winter Session, a live electronica set performed in a single uninterrupted take. In 2018 the band reconfigured as a 3-piece and set to work rehearsing and touring in this new arrangement. In 2019 Vorn was diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma, and told that without treatment he would be dead within six months—or, with treatment, there was a slim possibility he might last a little longer. This news put something of a damper on his rate of musical productivity. But after a couple of sadder-than-usual band meetings and some radiation judiciously applied to his brain, Vorn commenced work on The Late Album, a musical testament intended to cheat and / or commemorate his impending demise. In early 2023, after more tribulations than it is prudent to list in a press release, the band put their final touches on the decreasingly posthumous masterwork. In mid 2023, there was a brief hiatus in album release plans while Vorn took a break to have his sternum replaced by science. Which brings us to right now. Right now, you have the album! As in, the album – the first one in musical history ever to beat terminal cancer. Beware its power! (Especially if you are cancer.)
VORN: THE STORY
Vorn Colgan is that rarest of things in this age of uber-hyped instant stardom and the reduction of pop music to another reality-show format point: an underground artist. Since 1999, Colgan has been releasing albums to critical acclaim and building a small but fanatical following based on ceaseless touring with his phenomenal live band, all without the benefit of major label support or NZ on Air funding. Vorn provides the kind of needle-sharp lyrical wit the average songwriter would happily swap a kidney for.His 2011 release ‘Down For It’ was a bona-fide masterpiece of pop songwriting, effortlessly switching between (and occasionally mashing together) seemingly disparate genres to create an entirely new vision of what pop music can be in the 21st century. Simon Sweetman opined “Colgan is one of this country’s greatest songwriters, never cloying or faux-romantic; these are direct songs; honest, cynical, sincere, hilarious and in many cases ridiculously catchy.” Grant Smithies concurred – “Here’s a man capable of wringing great pop from the bleaker aspects of modern urban life … it’s the sharp eye for sadness that attracts me; his ability to use humour to expose pain, his affection for the underdogs.”Since the release of his first solo album 20 years ago, Vorn has eked out a career as one of those artists who are widely acclaimed by critics and fellow musicians and largely ignored by the wider public.This tendency to languish in obscurity certainly has nothing to do with output - Colgan has released 8 albums between stints working with avant pop savants Gold Medal Famous and providing accordion services for the Wellington Sea Shanty Society and is releasing his decreasingly posthumous ninth album, titled The Late Album. But in this age of high-speed news cycles it is not enough for an artist to have a huge, high-quality back catalogue and crack live band to turn out punters for a gig. You need a marketing gimmick. Having noted the success of the Chills in parlaying a Hepatitis C diagnosis into a successful film career, Vorn decided to go one better and develop Stage 4 Melanoma. "This isn't a joke", he said in a recent interview. "I have cancer. Will you come to my damn gig now?"
So far the Vorn band has released two singles from the new album—the incredibly catchy list of execution methods “No Arms No Chocolate” and the suspiciously optimisticsounding “A Safe Pair Of Hands”. Both have garnered airplay on bNet stations and their videos have sparked something of a viewing frenzy on YouTube despite having budgets lower than a weekly grocery bill.