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album review: The Venus Fly Trap ‘Time Lapse 1989-1994’

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Time Lapse

Time Lapse 1989-1994
[Glass Modern]

Venus Fly Trap are, like a spinning wheel, a band in perpetual motion. From early posturing as post-punk pioneers to their current incarnation as darkwave duo they’ve a career that’s been characterised by a constant change. Time Lapse 1989-1994 collects tracks from a trio of early albums and reassembles them as alternative album for these strange, alternate times. 

Despite being largely ignored at home The Venus Fly Trap found great favour on the continent, and the band’s second album – 1989’s Totem – was originally released by French label Danceteria. It was a devilishly dark album that set the tone for the coming decade and, opening like the gates of Babylon, ‘Out Of Your Depth’ is a spiky, angular workout that’s anchored by a brutally heavy riff. Throughout vocalist Alex Novak wails like the love child of Jim Morrison and Nico over a beat provided by a band that sounds akin to Killing Joke tussling with Public Image. ‘Europa’ was Totem’s lead single, and it’s a dizzying effort that swirls around the gravitational pull of drummer Andy Denton nailing his kit to the floor. 

Fast forward two years and Venus Fly Trap were picking the lock of Pandora’s Box to reveal a veritable treasure trove of delights. Pillaging its contents the band produced a kaleidoscopic album that found the band in confident, muscular mode. Producer Pat Fish [aka The Jazz Butcher] sprinkled his magic on proceedings and, in an age when music was polarised between thrash metal and acid house, Pandora’s Box carved out its own unique niche. It sounded like nothing else at that time, and therefore it still sounds timeless. Like Mark E. Smith on serious downers ‘Sidewinder’ is a truly haunting affair, whilst ‘Achilles Heel’ races out the blocks and skips forth joyfully.

1994 found the band exploring some rock roots and the resulting album, Luna Tide, was heavy enough to receive a glowing review in metal bible Kerrang! Armed with an expansive production it was an album that arrived heavily leaden, and sounded humongous. A loose concept album that offered a frightening vision of a not-too-distant dystopia, the songs were connected thematically by a sense of gritty, urban decay. From the nuclear meltdown ‘Storm Clouds Are Gathering’ to the Orwellian ‘Heretic’ via the High Rise-influenced ‘Moscow Menagerie’ Luna Tide was an album that demanded your full attention. 

Despite the years which separate these tracks Time Lapse hangs well together as a cohesive whole, and makes the perfect album for both the long term and the casual fan. 

Sargent ‘D’

Time Lapse 1989-1994 is out on March 26th both digitally and on CD via Glass Modern Records from here.

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