Vennart
To Cure A Blizzard Upon A Plastic Sea


4.0
excellent

Review

by GreenyQueeny USER (1 Reviews)
November 9th, 2018 | 35 replies


Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Vennart's pick 'n' mix bag of goodies.

Mike Vennart’s musical career has a lot to show for it. Since the unfortunate bitter split-up of the celebrated prog rock band Oceansize 7 years ago, he has been involved with the Scottish rock band Biffy Clyro as their touring guitarist while working on 2 separate solo projects of his own. The first one, an electro-rock offshoot project British Theatre, is an experimental collaboration with Richard "Gambler" Ingram, an ex-bandmate from Oceansize. The main body of his artistic output as a solo musician, however, was produced and released under the name Vennart, a project comprising no less than three fifths of the original Oceansize lineup – Mike and Gambler were joined by the guitarist Steve Durose (also Amplifier). The remaining member of the band is a talented drummer Denzel.

While Vennart’s debut album The Demon Joke explored his ability to write catchier songs with a hint of poppy elements mixed in, something that Oceansize already tried on their Everyone Into Position, his newly released sophomore record makes few attempts to make the music easily accessible to a broader, undemanding audience. This is readily exemplified by its outlandish title and the conspicuous lack of obvious first-listen hit singles. The change of direction away from more straightforward songwriting is, however, by no means to the detriment of the music quality. Quite the contrary, the album artfully meanders through different moods and styles, which results in a fresh-sounding soundscape throughout the entire album’s length. Atypical song progression and structure, so characteristic for a lot of Vennart’s previous work, keep the listener interested and songs captivating. A case in point is the album opener Binary, which starts off with a hypnotizing sound of droning guitars over a mechanical drum beat, repetitive bass tones and dreamy vocals. The song then gradually gains in urgency as it progresses, only to climax with a punchy rock riff and Mike’s energetic singing.

Vennart’s vocal performance on the album deserves a mention of its own – his powerful screams on Diamond Ballgag or his slightly raspy and expressive singing on That’s not Entertainment truly testify to the improvement he has seen as a singer since the early days of Oceansize. As for the instrumental side of the album, while the guitars frequently provide the rhythmic backbone of the songs, it is quite often the brilliant work of Gambler on the bass guitar in songs like Sentientia or That’s not Entertainment that take its place at the forefront when it comes to memorable melodies. The former song is also a standout track thanks to the powerful drumming of Denzel, who plays his beats even in heavier-sounding songs with metronomic precision. Although the albums lacks extensive guitar solos, the eccentric and to-the-point guitar interludes, as in Friends Don’t Owe, work much better within the context of the songs.

I often like to reflect on the impression an album leaves in me after spinning it a few times in its entirety. After listening to To Cure a Blizzard upon a Plastic Sea, however, I cannot quite seem to put my finger on it. I believe herein also lies the key problem with this album – it is too complex and varied to make the listener feel much of anything. What is a major asset of the album also turns out to be its biggest shortcoming.

Although the excellent closing track Robots in Disguise, which is up there with other Oceansize’s epic closers, seems like a microverse of the album representing all of its variations and progressive elements, it does not do enough to help get rid of the feeling that the album is more a collection of songs rather than a coherent whole. Eccentric songs like Immortal Soldier do not help the album in retaining at least some sense of direction. Listening to it might therefore feel like an emotional roller-coaster – going from dark and moody to rocky to quirky back to dark and anxious and then joyful with a hint of cocky – and that within the first 5 songs! This multifacetedness thus definitely makes the album a grower.

Overall, however, the album makes for an enjoyable listen and testifies to Vennart’s ability to keep producing quality music that does not get stale after several listens.


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3.8
excellent
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Comments:Add a Comment 
sizeofanocean
November 8th 2018


1124 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Good review, but after quick skimming i already found a mistake. It's not Graham, but Ingram. He is often also referred to as "Gambler"

Mad.
November 9th 2018


4750 Comments


Great review man, nice to see these guys are still doing stuff

TwigTW
November 9th 2018


3742 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Loving "Into the Wave" at the moment, but the whole album is great... Nice to see it get a review.

Digging: Rhiannon Giddens - there is no Other

GreenyQueeny
November 9th 2018


9 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Thank you for your comments, much appreciated. I would like to edit the factual and grammar mistakes, but I don't actually know why (it's my first ever review), any ideas?



BTW I went to see Vennart live for the first time tonight, it was one of the best shows I've been to, although there was hardly anyone at the gig I really felt sorry for the band, they make superb music and put on a fantastic show, it was really something.

TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
November 10th 2018


18435 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review and you can edit by going to "my profile" on the top left of the page beneath the red banner. Then click "edit my reviews/albums" under your prof pic and it should be there.



This is one of my favorites of the year, and an improvement on the already good The Demon Joke.

Digging: Flying Lotus - Flamagra

GreenyQueeny
November 10th 2018


9 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I also wrote "I don't know why" instead of "how", haha, shouldn't comment on forums after a night out.



Thanks Talons for the tip, the review should now read a bit better.

JS19
November 10th 2018


7117 Comments


If it helps the Vennart show near me next week or so in the UK is almost sold out. Guy gets a lot of love over here

Digging: Tim Hecker - Anoyo

sizeofanocean
November 10th 2018


1124 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

It's truely a shame how little attention he/they get outside his hardcore fanbase

Coldplaz
November 10th 2018


77 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Really pleasantly surprised with this one, I wasn't a big fan of Demon Joke or British Theatre album but this is great, his best work since Frames.

beefshoes
November 10th 2018


7288 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Ahhhh I can't wait to listen to this.

Digging: Touche Amore - 10 Years / 1000 Shows: Live at...

beefshoes
November 10th 2018


7288 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Fuck, this sounds just like a toned down Oceansize. The first album had that vibe at times too, but this is much more melancholic and adventurous, with a less linear structure (which was exactly what I was wanting from this album).

sizeofanocean
November 11th 2018


1124 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Yeah ... this is everything i wanted in a new album of his. He is also an outstanding vocalist by now

TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
November 12th 2018


18435 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Into the Wave is pure bliss, probably my favorite Vennart song. Last two tracks are also very reminiscent of Oceansize in a good way. I like The Demon Joke but this is much better imo

beefshoes
November 12th 2018


7288 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I have to agree with you. I loved the Demon Joke as well, but this is definitely an improvement in about every possible way. This actually stands up with the Oceansize discography.

sizeofanocean
November 12th 2018


1124 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

All of the above

Underflow
November 26th 2018


4867 Comments


Finally jamming this.

JohnnyoftheWell
Contributing Reviewer
December 3rd 2018


14215 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Also finally jamming this, neat stuff. Spider Bones is a great tune

Digging: Ichiko Aoba - QP

vakuola
December 25th 2018


283 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Loved it

SitarHero
Contributing Reviewer
March 27th 2019


9460 Comments


Holy shit. This is exactly what I've been looking for!

sizeofanocean
March 28th 2019


1124 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Sitar you're a bit late to the party but still glad that you could make it



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