woensdag 20 mei 2015

You and Me Galaxy. Villeneuf

Detail of cover
Sometimes an act simply surprises. In 2013 I ran into Villeneuf by accident. They were the support act for Moke in one of the last shows I saw in the old LVC in Leiden before it closed its doors. From that show a relationship was built including reviews and an interview with lead man Michiel van Poelgeest. When I read about the release party in Gebr. De Nobel on 21 May, which I'll unfortunately miss, I got into contact. At present I'm listening to You and Me Galaxy for the first time and I'm amazed. Is this the same band?

Of course there were electronic elements in the previous album 'Great Waste of Time' (read here: http://wonomagazine.blogspot.nl/2013/02/great-waste-of-time-villeneuf.html), but on You and Me Galaxy the band goes way out on electronic sounds. And I can't say that it deterred me really. From my initial surprise my relationship with the album steadily grew. I found myself playing You and Me Galaxy more regularly during the days and weeks I have the album in my possession. Faint memories of 70s bands like the Average White Band and Atlanta Rhythm Section came to mind, where soul met forms of rock, combined with some sounds from later disco and U.K. new wave like the synths of Gary Newman. Villeneuf blends these sounds into its own. Delving a little deeper the name Midlake comes to mind and with that The Moody Blues from around its 'Long Distance Voyager' album as Villeneuf is not afraid to incorporate a disco like rhythm in a more progressive rock kind of song, like 'Lost' is.

'Since the Start' is the song that opens You and Me Galaxy. Electronic sounds from the disco age, 1977 - 1982, fly by, even the smoothest of bass sounds is in there. It does not make 'Since the Start' a disco song in the true sense of the word. For that the song is too slow, too melancholy, too sad. That makes the song at most moderately danceable. Moving your upper body while standing still. That kind of song. Dreamy, soft. To listen to and move without noticing at first.

The form Van Poelgeest chose to record his songs, is in an extremely delicate idiom. The music is soft, but multi-layered. A lot of music is played on things with keys. Organic and totally plastic all come by, with everything in between. Within the general melody a lot of sounds and snippets of melodies are incorporated. Idea after idea was developed and crafted into each song to create a wall of different, electronic sounds, while in most songs a level of vulnerability shows through that makes You and Me Galaxy a rare combination of distanced and personally close.

There is more than enough variation to discover I noticed after I got myself more familiar with You and Me Galaxy. The near psychedelic, because totally out of order jazzy, intro of 'Landslide' is so different from all else happening on the album, that at first I thought to be listening to something different. The moment the sound changes, morphs into silence, I realised to have been musically fooled by Villeneuf. The funny thing is that it doesn't sound bad at all, just out of order.

Villeneuf manages few other surprises as well as it latest album plays itself out. 'Riser' starts in a very strict way, after which electronics are added. Lots of blips, disconcerting keyboards and a main melody over the rhythm and out comes this melody of such beauty. "Aaaah" the harmony sets in, after which the melody is killed again for a mild form of alienation. A lot is going on in 'Riser', a song in which Villeneuf certainly dares to take the road less traveled. Beauty and beast are in constant contact here. Final song 'Landslide' is able to do the same trick. Weird sounds and electronically treated voices(?) are very manifest until a horn (sound?) comes in and the song moves into a song that reminds me of a delicate A Brand in another galaxy. Again Villeneuf blends all sorts of sounds and elements into a song that totally convinces me of its quality and inner beauty. A great way to end the album as a climax is built that lays the foundation for our anticipation of a new album. Already.

All in all there's a lot to discover on You and Me Galaxy. An album that holds secrets in the sounds and the songs as a whole. I am sure that I will discover new sounds or another sub melody years from now, just because I'm open to it or listening in just this slightly other way. A great step forward You and Me Galaxy is in my opinion.


You can listen to 'Oh Oh (Now We Know)' here:


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