Review: Mika Vainio + Kevin Drumm + Axel Dörner + Lucio Capece – Venexia

The release page for this four-way collaboration highlights the various lines of connection between each of the participants (Capece and Vainio’s work in the Vladislav Delay Quartet, Drumm’s previous trio work with Dörner and Capece etc), as though Venexia was an inevitability, merely awaiting for the paths to collide and for the idea for an album to spark. And even if this quartet has materialised on two occasions already (once in 2008 and again in 2011), the opening throws of this release are still rich with an uneasy anticipation, beckoning connection and collaboration out of those early seconds of silence.

It’s a deathly quiet opening; one that reminds me of Dörner’s hushed, tip-toed minimalism present on his recent Corvo release with Jassem Hindi. Gentle streams of white noise seep and drop out alongside scratchy, bubbling radio static, while high tones and groans swoop in gentle arcs from above, fading out in turn to grant elements a few agonising moments of lonely, anticipative solo. The balance between the electronic and the organic is beautifully poised, arranged so as to eradicate any sense of opposition or separation between them; Venexia is a spectrum, on which clinically calculated sine waves and warm brass drones sit at either ends of the scale, and various stuttering noises and fleshy, bleepy unrecognisables blur the line in between.

The volume rises, but not toward some tediously predestined climax; Venexia spends more of its time hovering in some unpredictable limbo velocity, escalating and dropping in unpredictable drops and turns. Textures are killed with a cruel pull of the plug while others are gradually cranked until they bark angrily in the foreground, and a group dynamic establishes itself via a carefully negotiated four-way see-saw, which slowly tilts emphasis between the players in the most steady-handed dynamic negotiation. As a whole, it’s neither abrasive nor beautiful, neither loud nor quiet; a careful application and release of each of its parameters in turn.