Where has everyone been hiding Venus Hum? How have I led
an even remotely fulfilling life thus far having never been graced
by their musical brilliance until now? I could not help but think
this from the moment I placed The Colors In The Wheel (the
band's sophomore full-length release) in my CD player. I kept
expecting to be disappointed, but my expectations were not met.
The Colors In The Wheel is a great album, and that's all
there is to it.
Venus Hum's sound captures the mystery and uniqueness of artists
like Bjork and Esthero, with vocals similar to those
of Sarah McLachlan, Tori Amos, and Imogen Heap
(only without the latter's androgynous feel). However, one of
vocalist Annette Strean's greatest strengths - which I
believe in some ways surpasses the aforementioned singers - is
the deliberation in her delivery. She is careful to whisper when
the lyrics are timid and delicate, and let her voice resonate
when the words call for confidence and fervor. While this is true
for most experienced vocalists, I find it to be especially notable
in Strean's vocals, which is part of the reason that listening
to Venus Hum is such a spellbinding journey for the listener.
The first track, "Turn Me Around," contains heavenly
textures that give the listener the sensation that they are floating
high above the clouds with Strean's haunting, but hopeful vocals.
In "Yes And No," which reminds me a bit of a Metric
track, there is a dormant anger brewing beneath the surface
of the song. You can hear it in Kip Kubin and Tony Miracle's
digital instrumentation as well as Strean's vaguely seething vocals
when she sings, "And so the story goes/Bite down until it
There is a coal in my mouth/This volcano is going to
Darling, I can't handle the pressure." "Do
You Want To Fight Me?" is a somewhat frantic number, not
unlike the "frantic punches" being thrown by Strean's
lover in the song's lyrics. The song has a choreographed frenzy
to it, similar to a real-life fight, with the slow whistling solo
in the middle of the song acting as the eye of the storm. The
tracks on the record vary from the beautiful-but-radio-friendly
"Birds And Fishes" to the peaceful "Genevieve's
Wheel" to the intriguing "72 Degrees," which consists
of mesmerizing vocal overlays, some snazzy keyboarding and two
lovely a capella breaks. The record comes to a close with Strean's
distant echo at the end of "Go To Sleep", a delightfully
melodic lullaby. Lyrically, The Colors In The Wheel shifts
between the decidedly blunt and the rather ambiguous. Songs like
"Turn Me Around" and "Birds And Fishes" consist
of symbolic themes surrounding nature, while "Yes And No,"
"Do You Want To Fight Me?" and the bubbly "Pink
Champagne" deal directly with subjects of romance or conflict.
Venus Hum has discovered a way to engage all of the senses. It
is not merely an auditory experience. While the album's cover
art in itself is visually stimulating, Kubin and Miracle's keyboards
also provide a divine visual backdrop for Strean's singing, which
spans from euphoric to heart wrenching. Who needs hallucinogens
when you can turn on a song like "Surgery In The Sky"
and travel to the blissful planet of Venus Hum? Listening to The
Colors In The Wheel is truly a full-body experience.
1. Turn Me Around
2. Untitled #1
3. Yes And No
4. Untitled #2
5. Birds And Fishes
6. Do You Want To Fight Me?
7. Genevieve's Wheel
8. You Break Me Down
9. Untitled #3
10. Surgery In The Sky
11. Pink Champagne
12. 72 Degrees
13. Untitled #4
14. Go To Sleep
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