Sydney seven-piece New Venusians are a week away from dropping their debut self-titled record. They’ve already made a mark on the Australian music scene, having performed their blend of soul, jazz, and avant-garde music (appropriately titled ‘celestial R&B’) around the country.
Most of the members of New Venusians are busy session musicians, having backed the likes of Ngaiire, Sampa the Great and Chet Faker. The recent lockout laws in their hometown of Sydney has spurred them on to find a unique musical place that can be shared with others. Band founder and chief songwriter/guitarist Ben Panucci is a jazz trained musician, and his musical sensibilities are highlighted throughout the record. There’s a freshness in the harmony, arrangement, and not to mention the strong sonic exploration that takes place. The lyrical themes of the album ebb and flow between negative relationships, anger, and being inspired by dreams; which at times is ironic, considering the music (for the most part) is quite happy and uplifting.
Singer, Meklit Kibret is a standout band member, offering a wealth of contagious vocal hooks throughout the record. ‘Keep Running’ is a great example of Kibret’s engaging and memorable singing abilities. Vocal diversity is utilised by this band during Christian Hemara fronted track ‘Sea’. The difference in dynamic between the two vocalists is effective at expressing the narrative of the record and is reminiscent to the female/male vocal dynamic of groups like The Dirty Projectors.
The guitar is very much at the forefront of the band’s sound, which is interesting as most new soul music these days is founded on the sound of the keyboard or rhodes – it’s refreshing to hear the guitar in the centre stage. But that does not rule out the fact that this record gets deep in its exploration of the synth world. Tracks such as ‘TS I Love You’ and ‘Game Change’ constantly blend the organic with the inorganic; a vibrant clash between raw guitar sounds with rich synthesis. When these elements are combined with the more psychedelic side of production (things get pretty out there in the delay and reverb department), it results in a fascinatingly unique hybrid and one that’s the perfect vehicle for these songs.
The willingness that this group has to be adventurous not just in their sound, but in their arrangements and instrumentation is a breath of fresh air. It’s definitely a healthy way to approach their first release; the first of many more explorative and genre-bending records. There are big things in store for New Venusians: not only are they releasing a new record, they’ve also signed to Portland (US) based label Fresh Selects. A connection such as this opens many doors for opportunities on the international stage, not too mention the favour that they will continue to gain in their homeland.
New Venusians’ debut record will be released worldwide on Friday March 24 (via Fresh Selects). Have a peek at the single ‘Game Change’ below.
Thursday 20 April – The Workers Club, Melbourne Vic
Friday 28 April – The Boundary, Brisbane QLD
29 – 30 April – Planting Festival, Brisbane QLD
Thursday 4 May – The Imperial, Sydney NSW
Thursday 8 June – Rad Bar, Wollongong NSW
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