BROKEN RECORDS: VAST – Audio Visual Sensory Theater

"I'll never find someone quite like you again."



When physical media ruled the earth you could literally listen to an Album so much that it began to self-destruct. Scratched and cracked CDs or unspooled, torn apart cassettes were a badge of honor in ones’ collection, proof that music was as vital as the very air we breathe. Broken Records examines these Albums and why they meant so much to us.

Visual Audio Sensory Theater was released in 1998 but it wasn’t until a few years later when a friend recommended the album to me. Much like Nine Inch Nails (to which VAST is often compared), the electronic/alternative sound is created by one man: Jon Crosby.

During my first listen, I immediately recognized the song “Touched” from the movie “The Beach.” I still can’t listen to that song without vividly picturing the film that I only saw once when it was first released. The song was a perfect fit for the film, but unfortunately didn’t make it to the soundtrack. (As I write this I am realizing a theme of Leonardo DiCaprio in my “Broken Records” articles, but it’s purely coincidental … at least I think it is.)

When the aforementioned friend recommended the album, he first introduced the song “Pretty When You Cry” and I was hooked immediately. “I didn’t want to hurt you but you’re pretty when you cry” seemed like such a unique lyric to me at the time. It was a catchy, sadistic love song and I adored it.

The album starts off really strong but weakens towards the 8th song, with the exception of the last track titled “You”, a genuinely beautiful song both lyrically and instrumentally. ​This is the type of atmospheric music that I love. ​

I hadn’t listened to VAST in several years until recently. There was no real reason for that. I genuinely loved this album; I just didn’t keep up with the bands releases. Recently, I was binge watching a TV show from the early 2000’s while I worked. I won’t say which show it was because it’s embarrassing but for some reason the bad drama featured really good music. I was barely paying attention when I heard what sounded like Jon Crosby’s voice. I Googled it and sure enough, it was “Don’t Take Your Love Away.” This encouraged me to re-visit Visual Audio Sensory Theater and Turquoise & Crimson and I have to say, the album holds up really well. It’s the type of album that deserves to be played loudly … really loudly.

Megan Hawkey is the co-founder of Riot-Nerd. She is a 34-year-old concert photographer. She lives in Fishtown with her supportive husband and their 2 rescued Pitbull mixes.

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