Vanessa Van Basten, an experimental shoegaze, post-rock and drone duo, started out in 2004. It was created by Morgan Bellini (Iam) & Stefano Parodi (Mope). This act, although never really been pushed forward as a fullscale music project, seems to be a favourite of people like Lamb Of God and Aaron Stainthorpe (My Dying Bride). According to the biography, the two releases we're about to review will be the last efforts from this project before going on an indeterminate hiatus. But before that, we'd like to enjoy these dreamy but heavy pieces of music a little more...
Ruins: Sketches and Demos
The first album is a collection of raw, unreleased demos, live recordings, sketches and outtakes they've recorded in the past ten years. The majority of the songs seems to be influenced by bands like Nadja, Jesu and Godflesh. Long, drone-driven soundscapes float freely over pounding, almost mechanical drums. The result is often similar to the bands I mentioned earlier but sometimes there's also a dark eighies goth touch, leaning towards the sound of The Cure and also to the shoegaze of Slowdive. The result is a very interesting and entertaining album.
My personal favourite tracks on this album are the opener 'Godfather' and 'Arbeit', but none of the other songs are of a lesser quality (except maybe the short 'Lapsteel Intro', taken from a live concert). The focus lies mainly on creating heavy, (mostly) slow and epic pieces of music. Here and there, as in 'Wien/Cholinergic Part II' the duo reaches the overwhelming power of Sunn O))) but Vanessa Van Basten doesn't need to go this heavy to be convincing. If this really is 'just' a collection of outtakes, this is an extremely talented project.
Ruins: Sketches and Demos is available on Solar Ipse records. The CD comes in a well taken care of digipac. I can only recommend every fan of Godflesh, Jesu, Nadja and even Slowdive or Cocteau Twins to have a listen. I hope the hiatus is not indefinate, that's for sure.
But we're not done talking about Vanessa Van Basten yet, there's more to come:
Many music lovers will already know that Disintegration is an album by The Cure and arguably one of the best albums ever written. According to Morgan Bellini, covering a few songs of this epic piece of gold has always been a dream. And, as I may add, a huge risk. Covering something perfect like Plainsong or Fascination Street is not an easy task, at least not if you want to convince shoegaze/drone rock fans. Yet, it seems like Vanessa Van Basten really pulled it off.
The e.p. starts with 'Plainbong' (yes, they gave it a weed-touch), a heavily droning cover of 'Plainsong'. Just like follower 'Dosedown' ('Closedown') the song is quite similar to the original but with loads of distortion and soundscapes. The guest vocalists never really reach the quality of Robert Smith's voice but that's actually ok. The whole reminds me of Nadja's coveralbum 'When I See The Sun Always Shines On TV'.
'Fascination Trip' is a bit more metal-related. The best album to compare this one to is Atrocity's 'Werk 80'. This is indeed a metal version of a new wave song, but not the best track on this e.p. 'Retitled' (a retitled version of 'Untitled', haha), has a similar approach with very heavy guitars but here the original Cure-feeling is a bit more present.
As a whole, the Disintegration e.p. is a nice addition to any collection but like many others, I will always prefer the original. Vanessa Van Basten did a good job covering these four beautiful songs and at least one of them would make a live concert extra special. Unfortunately this project is going on a hiatus so maybe we will never know what it sounds like on stage. This e.p. is available at Taxi Driver Records on vinyl and as a digital download.