I borrowed Venice is Sinking’s second disc from the guys at Team Clermont and I am very reluctant to ever let it go. What follows is an epic journey into time and space through sound. A quick word about the artwork as always. It confuses me that an album so beautiful and weightless would have such a bleak looking cover. The color scheme works well with the songs themselves but I always saw fields of wheat or something instead of factories. That being said, pretty decent cover.
Azar One is a gentle and slow build into a magnificent aural atmosphere that will repeat itself in strains on the album. I am very reluctant to use the word soundscape but it explains so well what Azar One is doing here. Imagine walking up the side of a green mountain and finally reaching the peak just as the sun is rising and hits the fog below. It’s surreal. Even Sigur Ros, kings of the epic sound journey, would be hard pressed to come up with something more.
Ryan’s Song begins louder and adds dual vocals that act more as instruments themselves. The guy/girl harmony, compounded with a solid yet unassuming drumbeat and well composed string section make this a great transition into the rest of the album.
Okay: I LOVE THIS SONG. Coming straight out of Ryan’s Song, Okay adds more weight to the foundation. The lyrics are fleshed out more and joined by a horn section instead of strings. The drums and bass are kicked up a bit more but not overbearing. “You’ll be carried far enough away but not guilt free” they sing. At this rate, I don’t care where they carry me, just as long as they’re singing this song.
Azar Two: More soft instrumental to tide us over until we reach the next song.
Wetlands Dancehall: A song that really fits its title. I really felt like grabbing my beloved and going for a short slow dance in Memorial. It’s very soft and the vocal harmonies are subtle enough to not be distracting. The lyrics are simple but it works. Sometimes you don’t need an essay when a haiku will do.
Young Master Sunshine came so suddenly, I didn’t realize that we were on the next song. It fit so well into Wetlands that I failed to notice the track change. The same slow dance feeling flows through here. A lovely string and horn arrangement If you’re not into shoegaze, leave now. While most of the songs sound very similar, it works as a cohesive whole to create AZAR. “It’s all too much but somehow it’s more than enough.”
Azar Three features a bit of pop and crackling as it transitions into an almost spacey sounding vignette. Reminds me of the music they play at EPCOT inside Spaceship Earth.
Sun Belt begins with a loud electric strum and melts into a shoegaze groove. Karolyn Troupe sings softly until a violin breaks in and begins to lead the band in a constantly shifting song. Quiet and heartfelt one moment, uptempo and sad the next, Sun Belt is an epic worth hearing just for sheer originality’s sake.
Iron Range: The beginning really reminds me of U2’s ‘With or Without You.’ It’s quiet but you can tell that this is something that you MUST pay attention to. I could actually see the Sleepy Horses taking this as a cover with no problems. But comparisons aside, this is a beauty of a song. The harmonies come in after a while, perfectly in place. It has that peak of the mountain feeling again. You will be taken in and enveloped by it. Easily the best song on the album.
Azar Four begins sounding like an old piano caught in the rain. Another lovely little placeholder that holds its own.
Charm City: A very long and very satisfying journey through the album ends with a very long and satisfying song. All the old themes come back here. Plenty of piano and chimes, drums, vocals, string sections and horns…it’s all in there. Just sit back and enjoy.
I give it an 9/10. I really can’t find anything to complain about except that the small little Azars have potential for full songs instead of filler. Other than that, buy this record. Seriously. It’s perfect for laying in the grass on a hillside, staring at clouds in the late afternoon. Fair warning, try to stay in one place and listen to AZAR as a whole, rather than in parts. While the songs are more than capable of standing alone, the whole experience is far greater when you listen to this all at once.