Vennart – ‘To Cure A Blizzard Upon A Plastic Sea’ (Album Review)
Mike Vennart has a reputation for turning musical messes and chaos into moving, engrossing, living and breathing songs. With To Cure A Blizzard Upon A Plastic Sea, he’s at it once again. This album can be chalked up as another success, awarded the latest approving check mark on a list of long-playing releases that date back to his work with Oceansize and 2003’s Effloresce.
In a culture still enslaved in common time, one in which 6/8 is still considered metrically adventurous, Vennart offers an abundance of refreshing relief. After some slow distorted swells, Binary begins proceedings in 11/8, the signature-recognition bringing to mind my first listen to the Oceansize classic Commemorative 9/11 T-Shirt. Naturally, that latest opening track grooves like a motherfucker.
As cool as previous Vennart album The Demon Joke was, To Cure A Blizzard Upon A Plastic Sea is vastly superior. Binary continues into unsettling yet somehow soothing chord washes, powerful vocals, and rubber-band basslines; Donkey Kong (what a title) progresses from filthy strumming to syncopated seven-something experiments, subaquatic bubbles, aggressive riff breaks, and one joyfully uplifting outro; and advance single Immortal Soldiers initially sounds like it could soundtrack a Tim Burton movie before entering Muse-meet-The-Beatles territory. We’re just over 15 minutes into a 54-minute album, and Vennart has already crammed more interesting ideas into that time than some artists fit into their entire careers.
Into The Wave briefly evokes Vennart’s on-tour employers Biffy Clyro through calm, precise vocal harmonies, then continues to soothe nerves jangled by its predecessors; the intimate vocal production present on Friends Don’t Owe reminds me of anything involving Jamie Lenman, even down to the whispered first words and laughed-off lyrical slip-up; and Spider Bones gets so funky it hurts, in the most unexpected and entertaining way possible. Just over its halfway point, To Cure A Blizzard Upon A Plastic Sea reveals itself as an engaging listen whether Vennart is busy getting serious or stretching his legs and loosening up.
Sentientia is this album’s only real weak spot, its grooves proving a little too loose while waves of synths overpower everything. That’s Not Entertainment slows things down with organs and Tarantino-movie guitars, much-needed breathing space afforded before Diamond Ballgag gradually increases the intensity once again. The latter track contains some of this album’s best riffs; slow, thick, and heavy, they’re clear and easy highlights.
Finally, the Transformers-referencing Robots In Disguise enters with some chilled keys and playful guitar leads. When Mike Vennart’s vocals enter, it just reinforces one of the most obvious things about To Cure A Blizzard Upon A Plastic Sea: This album’s collection of vocal performances represent an all-time high. Robots In Disguise sees Mike Vennart explore everything from Chris Cornell-style distortion to flamboyant but never overpowering melodrama – and once a proggy solo section gives way to one body-slamming outro riff riddled with fuzzy freak-leads, it’s obvious that overall, To Cure A Blizzard Upon A Plastic Sea deserves to be recognized as the product of an indisputably exceptional talent.
LTK RATING: 9/10 (Essential Listening!)
Pre-order To Cure A Blizzard Upon A Plastic Sea (out September 14) on iTunes.
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