In a lot of ways, the bands that belong to the nu-gaze and modern day dreampop movement have the ethereal cloudlike wispiness refined to a science. And yet, even standing on the shoulders of their 4AD and Creation Records forefathers, so many of these new bands are far from just “clones”, carrying a beauty all of their own whilst carrying the torch of those that came before them. Moscow’s Life On Venus is one of these bands.
‘Encounters‘, released March 3 of 2017, is an expansive, half-opaque, pale and shining album. Short, simple, dreampop. The first track, ‘Around The Sun‘ clocks in at just 2 minutes and thirty seconds, and yet despite this short duration, it accomplishes so much in such little time. It sets the tone of whats to come flawlessly with beautifully blended boy/girl vocals over a bed of hazy and light reverb coated guitars and driving, yet inconspicuous drumming. The sound is more in the vein of late era Cocteau Twins and Golden Age Slowdive than the more wailing rollicking gaze acts.
‘May‘ floats along like a perfect late spring morning, away from the noise and modernity of the city. When I hear this track I am transported to those grassy hills of my youth, staring up into the pale blue sky, feeling the breeze sweep gently across my face. Again, there is no heaviness, just a contended reflective quality like a lovers silly absent minded grin. With guitars running through that are reminiscent of Robin Guthrie, this is easily my favorite track.
Though there is not a huge wealth of diversity in feeling and mood in the album (not a critique) ‘Secrets‘ does change up the feel, if just slightly. Bringing a heaviness and slightly darker shading to the album than other tracks have showcased, it is a perfectly lightly depressive vignette that adds more depth to the album. The vocals are both hinted at, and easily audible (though not discernible). The chorus lead guitar is at the forefront, playing a gorgeously ringing and sombre melody that adds a delicateness to the song.
‘Rosetta‘ wraps up the album, beginning with reversed guitar (mirroring the first tracks use of the effect). It is another light breezer, soft and lightly yearning. “Come closer, stay by my side,” is sung overt and over again, as the track draws to its love-sick conclusion. Like all other songs on this album, it holds up on its own, but serves more as a piece of the whole.
‘Encounters‘ is a gem, filled with beautiful songs that at times float lighter than air. It is not the type of album with go-to songs but really ought to be listened to as a whole, as there is a purposeful uniformity employed here. So soon into March, and already great releases abound… and this is among them.
Christopher Red Collier