Venetic – Black Boxcars (Album Review)

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Venetic is an adjective describing a foreigner, newcomer or an intruder according to the definition on the Venetic website . This sounds like a list of some of the characters that appear on this woozy, Syd Barrett meets David Kilgour set of songs .

In Control starts with some quietly strummed guitar and a few cymbal splashes and suddenly we are wandering the streets on a grey Sunday in Wellington at 6:00am observing the characters that present themselves to the narrator. A women with flaming red hair and her eyes ablaze appears like something from a Nick Cave story and her self assuredness and confidence washes over the singer at the start of a new day.

Adieu Part-Dieu is the melancholic sketch of a traveller in an unamed french city that is ” a layered cake/rotting at the base/collapsing on itself.” In a two line observation before the final two verses (sung in French) the same traveller states ” I somehow hoped for more/ this isn’t what I crossed half a world for” Maybe not every kiwis’ O.E. is sunny beaches and pubs after all.

Back In The Day has a list of intriging characters (Oyster George, Little Lucifer, Big Splash and Frank The Cabbie) and situtations from the past when men were men and knew how to drink and smoke and dish out advice. Contraband down at the Lyttelton docks and.. bosses who don’t keep their word.” Set to a Tall Dwarfs like stagger beat drum figure and harmonica wheeze, it pushes and pulls you until you fall over and stumble to its spoken word conclusion of “That’s what I learnt from my Dad” Great stuff.

Side 2 starts with Come Out Michelle an upbeat sketch of the kind of person we have all known at somepoint in our lives . She is stuck in a black hole and won’t heed the singers plea to start living life and leave her selfmade hell. It is followed by The Man And His Toys a song Phil Judd might have written on of his darker days. It is a brisk walk past the the house in the street that we all feared as kids, always wondering what are “Those strange things sitting in that window?” A flanged guitar and doubletracked vocal, mix with odd background noises to really up the unease. Not to say there aren’t blue skies on the the album but they are fleeting.

Welcome To The Future starts with a magic bus set of acoustic guitar chords and tells the story of society’s failed dreams of an imagined future where we still hope everthing is going to turn out alright. Then suddenly the windows are thrown open and a summer breeze floats across the final track Whatever Happened To Amy ? It is a beautiful tremeloed guitar instrumental that would not be out of place on the soundtrack to an 80’s French arthouse film.

The 8th Venetic album is the first to appear on vinyl and contains narratives unmistakenably New Zealand in tone even when they are set in other countries. It’s the good old Kiwi vein of lyrical darkness that sits just beneath the gentle psychedelic guitar and vocal in these songs that provides much of the tension on this intriguing release.

Brent Giblin

Available on Vinyl from Southbound Records or Digitally from Bandcamp

Listen to two tracks here:

https://venetic.bandcamp.com/track/the-man-and-his-toys

https://venetic.bandcamp.com/track/whatever-happened-to-amy