“The intensity in Venja's interpretations already justifies a first reason to buy the album”
1 Live at the Brussels Planetarium - Part 1 27:14
2 Live at the Brussels Planetarium - Part 2 29:24
(DDL 56:39) (V.F.)
(Ambient Berlin School)
Galactic Underground, the project of Johan Geens, or if you prefer Venja, was a success with the first album. And for good reason! Great cover with gadgets and above all an excellent and well-produced album with the participation of Robert Rich, Erik Wollo and Roksana Vikaluk. This little masterpiece has undoubtedly put Venja back in the heart of EM sphere in 2017. He whose last solo album was as far back as 2016 with Shapeshifter released on the German label SynGate Records. <GU> would also put the Belgian School back on the agenda. If that first volume had a Berlin School touch, <G.U> Vol.2, which arrived in 2020, had a more ambient and progressive bend with the contribution of Michael Stearns, Erik Wollo, for a second time, and vocalist Nyoko Mizuki. Between the two releases, Venja played in concert as part of the Cosmic Nights 2018 at the Brussels Planetarium. A concert that revolved around these two Galactic Underground albums with different visions and lengths for the tracks of <GU> and embryonic patterns for the tracks of <G.U> Vol.2. And no matter the differences, the intensity in Venja's interpretations already justifies a first reason to buy the album. A first extract was already presented with the album Cosmic Nights 2018, released on Groove nl, with the tracks Photons Colliding and Der Anfang is das Ende und das Ende is der Anfang. And for the rest, <GU> LIVE AT THE BRUSSELS PLANETARIUM 2018 offers nothing less than this entire concert from Galactic Underground.
Live at the Brussels Planetarium - Part 1 is woven into the cosmic ambient spaces which joint Out of Control, which was in the plans for <G.U> Vol.2 when Venja performed it in this concert, to <GU>'s Destination Unknown. While the synthesized vocals and the dramatic outbursts are part of the setting, the ambient rhythm is completely absent. The length is different as we approach Destination Unknown in the blink of an eye. What is new here is this feeling of being absorbed in the universe of Blade Runner with a little more accentuated intensity. The synth lines have these apocalyptic gradations. They fly over, with their robotic eyes, a universe strewn of industrial explosions. It's in this context that Emerging appears around the 11th minute. The intensity of the first 15 minutes fades with the arrival of The Lunar Colony where we drift between the speech and the voices which are surrounded by glitches and sound radiations. It's in this context that the succulent Sky Ripped arrives and is interpreted in all its splendor and duration, including its ambient rhythm and its vision of cosmic Berlin School.
Live at the Brussels Planetarium - Part 2 begins with a good rendition of Glitched which was also in the plans for <G.U> Vol.2. Here we are able to identify the influences of Photons Colliding which comes right after. Also from Cosmic Nights 2018, Der Anfang is das Ende und das Ende is der Anfang is a Dark Ambient kind of track with a strong Vangelis flavor that gives it an end of the world tint. A voice from nowhere, and not belonging to my memories, introduces the entirety of Mirage, including the nocturnal ululations and this short space of ambient tribal rhythm. Leaving ends <GU> LIVE AT THE BRUSSELS PLANETARIUM 2018 with a little more time, a little more strength and precision in sound effects, and a little more tone in volume than when it ended <GU> in 2017.
A live album is still a live album! And in a mastering that gives more power and impact, to the music as well as to the sound effects, than in the first two studio volumes, <GU> LIVE AT THE BRUSSELS PLANETARIUM is a valuable live album that is also an excellent companion album to the first two volumes of Galactic Underground. And if you enjoyed <GU> and <G.U> Vol.2, I sincerely believe it's a must have. Otherwise, it's like a Best of... of both studio albums.
Sylvain Lupari (June 20th, 2021) ****½*
Available at Venja Music Bandcamp