By Mike Delano
20+ years and heaps of tracks and remixes since their inception, dark electro veterans VNV Nation still have some fascinating headtrips to share, as evidenced by Transnational, their ninth album. It’s a solid mix of atmospheric mood pieces and more straightforward beat-driven dance numbers, but it’s not incoherent – in fact, the record feels quite confident in its two-sided approach. The chilly, paranoia-laden, smoke-billowing-across-the-2 a.m.-city-streets instrumental of “Generator” has a much-less-evil counterpart in “Lost Horizon,” which has an almost triumphant synth-created momentum. The vocal tracks also have seemingly opposing outlooks. “Everything” has a positive, hopeful vibe, while the harder-edged “Primary” and “Retaliate” feature a more commanding vocal presence from Ronan Harris. Generally, the harder and darker material on Transnational is its best stuff, but the variety is compelling, and the best of the bunch — the two-part, 14-minute “Teleconnect” — ditches the dark/light, hard/soft dynamic altogether for epic, affecting melancholy.