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24 February 2014

WTSH Top Track of 2013: Venera 4 || Haunted Summer.

WTSH Top Track of 2013:
Venera 4 || Haunted Summer

With 2013 now rapidly receding in the collective rear view mirror, we’d like to bring your attention to one of our very favorite tracks of that year. “Haunted Summer” is a tour de force of fuzzy, ‘gazey, dark and droney neo-psychedelia released in April by Paris quartet Venera 4.

This nine-minute track has a spacious vastness—established immediately by the shimmering synth-string chords and synth bends and oscillations opening the song—that you can really get lost in and that is sustained throughout its epic duration by fairly minimal instrumentation and perhaps only four or five chords (but plenty of reverb). 

The command of atmosphere here is in fact phenomenal. Despite the airy expansiveness, the track is still texturally complex, a tricky combination to pull off. Another difficult balance that’s perfectly managed: the song is spaced out and trippy, but also very controlled. The reins are momentarily loosened periodically throughout so that it feels briefly as if things are spinning out of control—and then the threads are deftly pulled back together, focus is restored and incipient vertigo relieved. This pattern is very characteristic of classic shoegaze; this band knows what it’s doing. 

That Venera 4 is very much about both space and atmosphere is in fact completely confirmed by a little research into the origin of the band name. Venera is the Russian word for Venus, and Venera 4 is the name of a 1967 Russian Venus probe, the first spacecraft to succeed in analyzing a planet’s atmosphere from within. The soundscape of “Haunted Summer” is indeed Venusian, easily evoking a misty, sweltering otherworld.

The female lead vocals, which don’t commence until after two full minutes of slowly building introductory instrumental shifts and changes, are sung, spoken, and whispered with a very low-key delivery that for all its affective restraint still serves up an unmistakable swagger and a simmer of both menace and sensuality. The track’s chorus, which doesn’t appear in full glory until three and a half minutes along, approaches anthemic power despite its hazy setting and may stick in your head even though you probably won’t be able to discern a single lyric. (Fortunately you don’t need to; you can consult the handy transcription that the band has so generously provided for WTSH.)

While the overall vibe and feel remain very consistent, the sound and arrangement morph continually throughout. The two instrumental bridges, for instance, are very different. In fact, aside from the three full iterations of the chorus, no section duplicates another, not even in terms of the backing tracks for the verses.

Despite the ample duration and all the shifts and experiments along the way, we don’t experience any cringes or “Yikes, they shouldn’t have done that” moments. Which means this song is in the running for being considered perfectly crafted. NICE!

Above and beyond the various other strong points we’ve mentioned, the real achievement of “Haunted Summer” is in the realm of mood. It’s a supernatural slow jam made of ectoplasm, Xanax and eerie spaceship sounds. While the mood is creepy and druggy and unnerving, it’s also fascinating and even a little sultry.

It doesn’t matter that the mood doesn’t sharply change across the considerable length of the song, because we’re delighted to hang out in the unique space we’re taken to for the duration. If this is what it’s like to be haunted, sign us up for some paranormal activity. Preferably the kind that occurs on alien crafts that routinely visit humid dimensions populated with interstellar ghosts and French girls singing woozy stoner space chants.

“Haunted Summer” now closes out Deaf Hearts, Venera 4’s outstanding debut EP, which came out from Requiem Pour Un Twister last fall and can be purchased as a digital download here and in a limited 12” vinyl edition (with download) here. And don’t miss Venera 4’s free holiday gift, the hushed and lovely Winter Sessions.

–Amber & Dan

Haunted Summer (Official Lyrics)
I don’t even know your name,
but my faith is still the same.
I don’t even know your face,
and the pictures of past faint.

Your name is an untamed word,
the sound of your voice is blurred.
Dark sunbeams are gone.
Memories lay eyes on me.

I will keep it wild,
haunter by my side
I will keep it wild

I will keep it wild,
haunter by my side
I will keep it wild
for you…

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