VH x RR — Von Hertzog and Rob Rowe — are a few days away from the Lakeshore Records release of their compelling debut EP, The Persistence of Memory. To celebrate, Vehlinggo premieres the lyric video for the exquisite number “The Long Goodbye.”
About The Persistence of Memory
When beloved astronomer Carl Sagan devoted an episode of his legendary PBS series Cosmos to the idea of intelligence — human, animal, alien, or machine — one topic he featured was the idea of “collective intelligence.” This refers to the collection of knowledge and wisdom contained in things like cities, libraries, and computers. It’s the hive mind’s knowing eye. Nostalgia is a lonely experience without it.
Nostalgia is merely an interest and on occasions a soul-shattering yearning to relive the past in some fashion. It’s built upon that collective intelligence as much as it is our own personal lived experience.
When we hear the music of VH x RR, the new project from synthwave producer Von Hertzog and Rob Rowe, co-founder of the legendary American synth-pop act Cause & Effect (“You Think You Know Her,” “Another Minute”), it’s a sense of personal and collective nostalgia that draws us in. We hear instruments or arrangements that take us back to the late 1980s/early 1990s to some cherished moments we associate with the likes of Rowe’s project or a similar-sounding act like Depeche Mode. Maybe the lyrics about relationships gone-by serve up reminders of simpler, more manageable times.
VH x RRs’ new 5-track EP The Persistence of Memory, a title taken from the intelligence episode of Sagan’s show, taps into a sonic memory while nevertheless avoiding any cynical pastiches or overwrought nostalgia. The EP, releasing digitally June 12 on Lakeshore Records, features the pulsating stomp of “Calm Down Lover,” the cinematic ferocity of “A Little Bit Sweeter,” the propulsive wistfulness of “The Long Goodbye,” and the spiritually intergalactic “The Sun, The Stars, The Shine,” in addition to a haunting remix of “Calm Down Lover” by Montreal-based producer SAINT-SAMUEL (as In a Dramatic Gesture).
Grammy-nominated engineer Count (Tycho) mixed and mastered all tracks except the remix, which is mastered by Hertzog.
About VH x RR
VH x RR was founded in 2016 by Kent “Von” Hertzog and Rob Rowe after a meeting set in motion by an intelligent machine known as Google Music’s algorithm.
Hertzog was working on a track with Information Society (2018’s “Nothing Prevails”) and his own synthwave-adjacent material for his Von Hertzog project. He was listening to Insoc when the algorithm recommended Cause & Effect’s major label debut album, Another Minute.
“I instantly fell in love,” Hertzog says. “Rob’s voice was sublime and the melodies he chose… it all felt like it spoke directly to me.”
Hertzog reached out to Rowe on Twitter and essentially cold-called him to see if they could work together. They got along well, realizing that their lives had a lot of parallels—both were working for themselves in the ad world and both had in-home studios that allowed them to quickly sketch ideas and share them over the Internet.
Rowe was cautiously receptive, because he was addled with a potent bout of writer’s block. Neither his Cause & Effect or Whitewaits projects were active, but he tried to keep his creative muscles robust with collaborations.
“I committed to working on a single together in the hopes that it would eventually lead to me beating that writer’s block,” Rowe says. That song would become “Calm Down Lover” by the fall of 2016 — a fitting completion to a song Rowe had been tossing around for years. Neither Hertzog nor Rowe wanted to press a hard deadline, so it would be another few years before they had three more songs for a full EP.
Rowe formed Cause & Effect in 1989 with the late Sean Rowley. They released their self-titled debut in 1990, which was reworked and re-released as Another Minute on BMG’s Zoo Entertainment in 1992. Single “You Think You Know Her” hit No. 24 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1992 and was followed by “Another Minute,” which hit No. 75 on that same chart. Follow-up album, 1994’s Trip, produced the single “It’s Over Now” that would go on to hit No. 7 on the Billboard Modern Rock charts. From 1996 to 2012, Cause & Effect continued to create and release new music through their own label, Liquefaction — along the way the act has embarked on several international tours. In 2013 Rowe released his first solo record, An Elegant Exit, under the name Whitewaits and followed that up in 2014 with Island EP . That same year he collaborated with Opencloud on two tracks from their Through the Narrow Door album. In 2017 Rowe collaborated with Costa Rican producer and techno DJ Lawrence Casal.
Hertzog got his start in the music industry as a hip-hop producer in 1996 under the name DJ Luciano. He released a series of underground mixtapes and CDs before landing engineering gigs for hip-hop artists such as Jojo Pellegrino and Pretty Ugly, and then while working at 1650 Studio in Manhattan he worked with R.A. The Rugged Man on his debut album. He also worked with WU-TANG’s Shyheim and recorded with Ghostface Killah at 36 Chambers studio. Since 2013, he’s been making music as Von Hertzog, a synthwave-adjacent project he started in the wake of his father’s untimely death. Since then he’s released six singles, two EPs, and three full-length albums, including the soundtrack to video game Neon Aileron —all releases that have defied any specific genre classification. Hertzog is also the owner and main engineer for mixing/mastering outfit The Social Club.
Although VH x RR is a new project, the name will ring a bell to long-time Vehlinggo readers. Last year, the duo contributed the kinetic environmentalist cut “She Sees a Future” to the Vehlinggo Presents: 5 Years compilation.