Photo By Jarrod Staples
When last we saw prog-rock quartet Vary Lumar, the group’s career trajectory was following roughly the same path as the lone figure walking through a snow-covered forest on the cover of its last release, 2013’s Capture. After 9 years, several EPs, two full-length albums, and a string of singles, Paul De Pasquale and the band felt alienated, unfocused, and on the verge of being lost for good.
“We were kind of falling off the map,” says De Pasquale on the phone from his Somerville home, sticking with the navigation metaphor. With their original guitar player Ben Case having moved on, the group—now consisting of De Pasquale, Rob Fusco, Rob Laff, and Christopher Brown—was reduced to a trio and had virtually stopped recording or playing shows, mired in a deep funk that had them questioning whether or not the entire endeavor was worth continuing. “We’ve been playing as a band since 2004, and we always battle with when is enough going to be enough. Everyone’s getting older, everyone’s got other things in their life, and there’s been times when we thought, ‘Let’s just call it a day.’”
One glance at the cover for their new eight-track set Breaker, which they’ll be celebrating with a performance at T.T. the Bear’s on Friday, should catch you up on where they stand now: a hooded figure stands ready to flick a switch, representing something of a reset button for De Pasquale and the band.
“When we started playing that album live last summer, we got a new band member [Brown], and I think it was like this switch, and that’s the whole ‘breaker’ thing,” explains De Pasquale. “We started dabbling more in electronic and trip hop, more of a laid back kind of feel than some of the other stuff that we’ve done. There’s not a lot of rock going on, which is new for us. But it was taking us out of that funk from Capture, out of that alienation. We just thought, ‘Let’s go back to what we love about music and go out and play shows.’”
The band’s revitalized energy is palpable on Breaker, but so is a richer and more expansive sense of musicianship. De Pasquale is right when he says they aren’t rocking as much, and songs like “Paperweight” and “The Prince” find murky pockets of space deep in the mix in which to operate with patience and elegant restraint. The electronic elements complement rather than overwhelm Lumar’s foundation of organic bass, guitar, drum, and vocals, on record at least; the task of faithfully adapting that to their live performances is the next challenge. Still, the path looks a lot brighter now.
“Right from the first song, we knew this was kind of the beginning of what we hope would be the future of the band,” says De Pasquale. “We’re already talking about the next year and doing some more playing and touring.”
VARY LUMAR BREAKER ALBUM RELEASE PARTY W/ ALOUD + DOOM LOVER + VELAH. T.T. THE BEAR’S PLACE, 10 BROOKLINE ST., CAMBRIDGE. FRI 12.5. 9PM/$8/18+. VARYLUMAR.COM