The Venus De Melos
13th March – Self-released
01. Distant Tides
02. Cryogenic Dreams
05. Shores of Time
07. Terra Firma
08. Id Prime
09. White Raven
From the album art alone, you’d be forgiven for thinking that The Venus De Melos are a generic “pluralcore” (patent pending) djent band. You’d be forgiven for believing, after pressing play, that The Venus De Melos are a band fronted by both a girl and a guy.
You are forgiven for being wrong on both counts.
The Venus De Melos are none of these; instead their style is more akin to a melodic math-rock band, with indie pop leanings and perhaps a foot into –core territory. It’s not generic, it’s not fronted by a girl and finally, it’s not actually a “band” per se: it’s actually a solo project by Brooklyn native Mikhail Kokirtsev – but it honestly sounds more than a band than many bands today, and as such it‘s quite a shame that it‘s not likely to play live in its current iteration.
NOVO is Mikhail’s debut full length album, and if this doesn’t blow up in popularity it‘s simply because music journalists (like myself) have failed you, dear readers. As catchy as it is complex, as emotional as it is exciting, and as filled with asymmetry as this article is with alliterations, it strikes a glorious balance between technicality and catchiness, with ventures into heavy material – all of which combine into a curious concoction of content.
The instrumental side is in many ways what you’d expect from a math rock band (think This Town Needs Guns), but NOVO looks into its core to find…well…core. When it explores mathier, more post-hardcore territory, it feels like the whole song has been building up to them, or as in “Meliorism”, the entirety of the album so far – and the release is as sweet as the melodies that follow.
NOVO is quite experimental, but not in a Mr. Bungle‘s Self Titled kind of way, but rather in a Mr. Bungle’s California kind of way. They don’t feel or sound jarring in any way, but rather a completely natural part of the songs’ flow. Look at “White Raven”’s vocal parts around the 2 minute mark, and the 50s pop influenced vocalisation that follows: all of it blends perfectly with the math rock essence of the project.
The vocals will no doubt be polarizing amongst listeners, as they are at times very feminine, and at times a bit rough, but both of these things work to The Venus De Melos’ advantage as it gives them character. High vocals seem par for the course for a lot of math rock, but this record goes all the way with the femininity, prompting the question of why aren’t there more (any?) math rock bands fronted by females? The roughness mostly comes through in the heavier parts, where they’re reminiscent of Bad Mask’s more melodic vocal moments – “Meliorism” is a prime example – and when the feminine vocals are pushed to their limit, like in “Shores of Time”. Both give more emotional weight to the overall vocal performance and that, along with some great harmonies, makes this aspect a high point on an overall great album.
The album isn’t perfect, however. While a nice idea to break up the album, interlude “Terra Firma” wanders around aimlessly. It’s especially noticeable because it’s surrounded with tracks that have such great focus; that flow beautifully and naturally to their destination. It’s brought into even sharper focus by an odd mix/master.
There’s also a pretty weak transition in the middle of “Meliorism”, where the fantastic dynamics of the song suddenly stop to give way to some directionless noodling – a shame, as it’s otherwise probably the best track on the album.
But despite its flaws, NOVO is a starkly original album; a feat worthy of bands with multiple members, years of experience, and loyal, adoring fanbases. It’s available for a price of your naming but I feel secure in saying that after a full listen or two many of you will be throwing your money at the screen, begging for more.