Venetic - Signs and Pointers
Record Label: WSM Recordings
Release Date: September, 2010
There’s a fine line between quirky, simplistic cleverness and amateurish showboating. There’s the pervading no-so-funny joke that all you need to be famous today is FruityLoops and a MySpace account. Venetic may not be all that famous, but their almost cartoonishly base instrumentation and structureless arrangements point more directly to dilettante than to maverick tendencies.
Opening track “Quantative Easing” does its best to trick you from the get-go as the overly percussive organ repeats the same intermediate-level phrases for almost five minutes straight. The drum machine is programmed to play a rather interesting and unorthodox beat on this song, but a deeper dive into Signs and Pointers will reveal that the unconventional percussion amount more to no one in the band knowing how to play drums than any kind of calculated originality.
“Into the Light” amounts to five minutes of one clumsy, wah-clouded guitar progression with an occasional, heavily distorted lick thrown around every minute or so. The band dedicates the first minute to singing the eight lines or so of lyrics (the first time vocals appear on the album), and the last four to jamming on the four chords that repeat throughout the entire song…only there’s almost no variation on any aspect of the song whatsoever at any point.
More of the same ensues throughout the rest of the album. The music on Signs and Pointers isn’t challenging in a satisfying way; there is no payoff for getting through to entire album, or any one song for that matter. There are no dynamics, no intriguing structures, and very little emphasis on strong songwriting. The best thing about Venetic might be their hilarious 1996-style website.
Frontman and principle songwriter Wayne Stuart McCallum has a schtick...he dresses up like an alien (hence the name), he intentionally throws unhittable musical curveballs, and he'd probably enjoy reading a scathing review like this. He's intentionally strange, and I get that; there's nothing more fun for a musician than to drown song skeletons in lavish effects. But I just found myself asking, what's in it for me?