cone magazine

Review: Virginia Wing – Forward Constant Motion


Virginia Wing encourage experimentalism and sonic discontinuity on their second full-length LP, Forward Constant Motion.

Initiated by guitarist Sam Pillay’s development of Labyrinthitis, the south London synth-pop duo have delved into an exploration of the decay of the human body. The condition in question results in vertigo and disorientation which would come on in spells as they were making the record, resulting in some of the tracks ending abruptly or sounding like they’re falling apart. “We wanted this record to expand in every direction: the poppy parts are poppier, the weird parts are weirder, hopefully”, Pillay explains.

Acting as an evolution of their previous LP ‘Measure of Joy’, Constant Forward Motion explores different insights and influences from the age of Daft Punk’s Homework, and Laurie Anderson in the early 80s. With progression, Virginia Wing have emphasized the pop and pushed the experimental aspects even further, creating an extremely avant-garde record. According to Sam, “the second album is a little more spontaneous. I just recorded a load of stuff before I went to bed, and edited it down”; it is clear that being regarded as tentative has never concerned the two.

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Upon first listen, the production and innovation are very reminiscent of The Japanese House. ‘ESP Offline’ promotes the spiraling cyclones of electronica which sound like a chaotic cut at first glance, yet as the track continues, one begins to appreciate the metallic accents and prevalent percussion. ‘Grapefruit’, for instance, surfaces with a disharmony of synths, crackles and hums, fabricating a somewhat indie-pop vibe. Reflecting Pillays’ condition, the track forms somewhat of a pop deconstruction which could be interpreted as a metaphor for the health problems and aging that curse our lives. On the contrary, ‘Miserable World’ is far more rigid in its making, with Richards’ vocals and the protruding jerking movements making a stimulating fusion.

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Whilst some listeners may argue that the album is inaccessible because of the intuitive methods where the tracks are made, Pillay disagrees. “There’s always somebody doing something more perplexing, but we never record with an audience in mind”. Perhaps this way of thinking gives the band their own unique element, one of which promotes unpredictability. Pillay continues, “I’d like a more mixed audience. It’s music for a mixed audience”.

In other words, Virginia Wing are simply attempting to make music for the wider audience, and with that comes criticism: the album lacks flow and sounds distorted, yet isn’t that the point? Behind much of the record is a dreamlike sensibility which contains segments that drift away sporadically. However, with the onset of Pillay’s condition during the making of the record, an album cannot get much rawer as it encapsulates all the feelings and sensations involved.

Words by Matthew Barlow


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