Reviewed: Venice Is Sinking – Azar

26 May

A track from this album, ‘Ryan’s Song’, was used for the Insomnia Radio Daily Dose back in February, so admittedly I’m a bit behind the times on this one, but I was sent the album a few weeks ago direct from the band and I thought it really warranted a write up.

There is nothing I can say about Athens, Georgia that hasn’t already been said. Something in the water, an unlikely hotbed of musical talent, blah blah blah. Venice Is Sinking are from this town, but unlike the weary descriptions used to encapsulate the local music scene, they are doing something very interesting and very different.

Their second album, Azar, was released at the end of March and is a remarkable achievement. It falls under the ‘chamber pop’ sub-genre, and before you berate me for being a pretentious genre-freak I’m only pointing that out because I genuinely love this style of music – the addition of classical instrumentation to the standard rock n’ roll lineup has a strange power over me, brass and string sections over guitars, bass and synths tend to make me weak at the knees. But it’s so rarely done to justice, and is so tricky to pull off that it remains a niche genre. Venice Is Sinking, however, pull off their combination of ambient rock and chamber pop perfectly.

The album is awash with light, airy layers and dreamy vocal harmonies, and there are so many strange and wonderful sounds to pick out that that it keeps your attention throughout and ensures that you get something new out of it with each listen. It covers a vast range of moods, from ethereal to jazzy, then eerie to uplifting, and is impassioned without being melodramatic. Azar is  set apart from other records of its type by VIS’s intricate structures and minute attention to detail, and it’s delicate and fascinating instrumentation lifts it further, safely into the realms of a truly special record.

This is a record that should be approached, as all great albums are, as a single body of work – not just 11 songs chucked on to a playlist, but 11 songs lovingly stitched together to form a seamless entity. It’s constructed with great thoughtfulness and care, and with the unusual inclusion of four instrumental tracks, or ‘Azars’, that pepper the record, giving pause for thought after every few songs. They let your mind drift away from the record before the next song pulls you back in, leaving room for appreciation and reflection on the music that has just passed.

Instead of picking a few standout tracks, all I will recommend is that you get hold of this album and appreciate it in full – that’s how it was intended and it’s what it deserves.

Listen to Azar here

Or go to their website and buy it!

Check out ‘Ryan’s Song’ on the Insomnia Radio Daily Dose

Or just visit Venice Is Sinking on MySpace!


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