The modern rock scene may be dominated by bands who produce both music and lyrics, but Valence is a four-piece group out of Westchester, N.Y., who is determined to take a stand for the value of purely instrumental music and its ability to tell a story even without words. And they do it with their unique, bold blend of metal, progressive rock, jam and other musical influences, which is most often compared to King Crimson, Between the Buried and Me, Animals as Leaders, and Rush.
Their debut album, Sleepwalker (2012), focused on inspiring a visceral experience with the listener’s subconscious, affected by the deep thought processes that went into creating the album by the musicians themselves. However, the album has a colorful story behind it, complete with a testy landlord, recording in 90-degree heat and a number of other obstacles they overcame to create their first recording success. This is due in part to the help of an audio engineer they hire as well as a focus on album concept art and unique, eye-catching packaging. Describing Sleepwalker, Alternative Control wrote, “As far as production, this is pretty much flawless. All the instruments come through perfectly, with an almost vintage kind of feel to the sound. It reminds me a little bit of early Mastodon production.”
From there, Valence performed live whenever possible, playing with Clutch, The Sword, Consider the Source, Kayo Dot, 3, and even Andrew W.K. The band began traveling outside their hometown area to Philadelphia and as far north as Burlington,VT (where the band played on a huge half pipe at the Burton HQ as skaters flew around them). Their touring schedule got busier, as the band began playing four to six shows a month.
It was only a short while before Valence began working on their second record, Laser Baron (2014), recording drums in the famous Carriage House studios in Stamford, CT. In this case, the band’s intention was indeed to tell a story, both musically and wordlessly. The story, written by guitarist Geoff Schaefer tells of a scientist who is coerced into creating a weapon for the military, eventually breaking through space-time and showing the scientist a world where his weapon is used for oppression. It may be difficult to imagine such a complex story being told by music alone, but with a harnessed focus on harmonic language and song structure, delicate cadences and smart use of audio-induced imagery, Valence has found a way to demonstrate the utility and versatility of instrumental progressive rock fusion.
Because their music is both accessible and instrumental while not being overly repetitive, many people have been receptive to Valence’s music for media placements. Their track “The Reckoning” off Laser Baron will be featured in a short horror film, “Snap,” directed by David Uscinski, who used to catch Valence at New York’s Gotham Rocks shows. Another song off of Laser Baron will also be used for a drawing tutorial video created by Brian Allen, who did the artwork for the album. These are just two confirmed media placements, but many listeners agree that Valence’s music is a perfect fit for films and video games with its intelligent, instrumental songs.
Valence’s music is available through a number of digital outlets, such as Bandcamp, iTunes, Amazon, Google Play and Spotify, and physical copies can be found through CD Baby, Amazon, Bandcamp and their merch booth at shows. Listeners can also stream Valence’s music on Bandcamp, Spotify and iTunes Radio. Valence is currently working on new material, trying out the songs at shows to gauge audience reaction, while focusing on booking high-quality shows, such as their Brooklyn show February 7th opening for Angel Vivaldi. Learn more, including a full schedule of shows and the actual full story behind Laser Baron, on Valence’s website.