Where vocoders, saxophone and synths chill out in an elevator.
Venus Years is a very unique sounding concept album. After several listens I’m still not sure I quite ‘get’ it or gel with it, but I still find it fascinating. Music can often challenge us and that is exactly what Tim Linghaus has done with this collection of music.
To describe the overall sound of the album, I’d say its elevator jazz, played by Boyz II Men on a quiet day whilst they live out their synthwave vocoder fever dream. It is such a wild mash-up that it will take you a few listens to understand all the different layers. There are bluesy piano motifs, RnB grooves on occasion, synthwave styled vocals straight from 1987 and some elevator jazz chic tripping in the background. Then softly, like a lounge act, in comes a sultry saxophone. It shouldn’t sound like it would ever go together but that is where Tim Linghaus’ expert production comes in.
Like a dream-pop album, all these different elements intermingle because none of them tries to take centre stage. They all play different characters in the mix and lean on each other. So that means, instead of pulling different melodies and motifs into strong directions, the whole album is about feels and hues. Yes, melodies and song structures exist – especially in the second half of the album where the quiet and more acoustic-based tracks reside, but it is not the main focus. Instead, Tim waltzes slowly through a mesh of genres in a melting pot.
The album has a concept in the background around seeing a divorce through the eyes of a child but that element didn’t really click with me personally. Instead, what I found that as the album continued, the haziness of it increased and it became far more melancholy. For that, read more up my street! Closing track ‘Ghost’ is an echoing synth blues waltz that is achingly beautiful and poignant. Other tracks like ‘Us In your Rear View Mirror’ uses glitch effects to repeat/replay stuttering moments of emotion to great effect too. ‘Warhorses’ on the other hand is like Savage Garden ballad drenched in reverb. It really is a mixed palette that will see you veer to different parts for different moods and genres. There is even a nod to drone and ambient alongside soulful beats, full-on blues guitar segments and calming piano segments.
Purely from a ballsy perspective, I’d recommend you take a dip into ‘Venus Years’ – you’ll soon know if the unique mash-up is for you or not. It does need to be heard to be believed though and for that, I commend Tim for trying something incredibly unique. I think synthwave lovers who want something to relax to without losing the synths will enjoy it perhaps a little more than the modern or minimal classical crowd but there is something for both here. On repeated listens I found more to enjoy and I think I’m slowly understanding it better as time goes on. I appreciate it when a musician takes me out of my comfort zone and shows me something new.
Recommended track: Ghost
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