Accomplished Belgium composer Venja, aka Johan Geens, has been around in the EM scene for some 30 years or so, but I confess missed out on quite a lot of his music.
I’m not familiar with the first volume of his project Galactic Underground, but having heard this second chapter makes me most curious as the featured orchestral, theatrical ambiences with a very nice narrative component take the listener into the enthralling cosmic vastness. The thunderous bass blasting under wide, gliding spherescapes on the great opener “Out of Control” set the tone perfectly. It’s followed by ambient maestro Michael Stearns citing a part of the Lord Byron poem “Darkness” on the same-titled track, but due to very strange, distorted, Japanese narrative sounds by Nyoko Mizuki things sadly fly out of control on the two-part “Daikanyama”.
Fortunately, the strong and intriguing sonic thread is picked up again after that with the excellent, cosmic sweeping “The Stars are better off without us” and the subsequent tracks. “Crossing Icy Moons” -which sees Mr. Stearns join Johan on The Beam and various synths- makes another strong cosmic anthem as does the emotive, deep empowering “Awe” through its wonderful, wide-ranging atmospheric drawings. “Novae Terrae” concludes the 62-minute album in a gentle, meandering, melodic style where Erik Wollo makes a fine contribution with his characteristic acoustic and electric guitar work.
Remains to be said the excellent mastered and mixed “Galactic Underground Volume 2” (make sure you experience it on a high-quality HiFi set if you can) would have earned 4 stars easily if “Daikanyama” wasn’t part of it.
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