Fram kunstfestivalen på Nesodden
Spooky Attraction From a Distance, Live at The Bioscope
Event: Saturday 2 July 2011 21:30 The Bioscope - Johannesburg, GP
“Known for her unique versatility and incredible vocal range, Juliana Venter, ex front singer of the legendary Mud Ensemble has come home from Berlin, where she resides, to launch her new album in South Africa.
Sunflower Sutra, recorded between Berlin, Cologne and Scotland, was produced by “new music” composer Joseph Suchy, known for his work with Jaki Liebezeit (Can), Bernd Friedman and Mouse on Mars. He has been described as one of the most important contemporary composers in Germany today and is honoured for his unusual and unique approach to the guitar. Together they have created a homogenous body of work reflecting a pop attitude within avant garde experimental structures, using folk, psychedelia and krautrock as its main influence. Their use of vocal and guitar noise, cutting edge electronics and analogue sound scapes gives this album a unique individualistic quality. Bass and beats not being the stars of this music, it creates an open aural map for its listener. Melodious, delicate and ever changing, comparisons with David Sylvian, Brian Eno and Aphex Twin come to mind.
Sunflower sutra reflects on Venter’s background as a South African artist. A composition such as “komkommer toebrooidjie” is a response to the British brutality during the Boerwar and the horrors of the concentration camps in which thousands of white woman and children where sacrificed. The song New Apples reflects on a post-apartheid South Africa and her longing for her home country.”
The Sound Projector
Music magazine & radio show
15/08/2019 Ed Pinsent
Heres a pretty powerful blast of intense performed noise, produced using just one bass guitar and one voice…and of course plenty of amplification and plenty of effects. It’s done by James Welburn and Juliana Venter, calling themselves by the simple acronym W/V on this self-titled LP (SILKEN TOFU STX.60). Welburn impressed us with his 2015 album Hold which came out on Miasmah, a home to many a grim drone, which he performed with the help of drummer Tony Buck. As I recall, it was his bass guitar that saved the day on that particular skirmish, and it has for many years remained as a benchmark of how much a man can achieve with zero restraint. Excess is the key. He’s getting pretty carried away on W/V too, for the most part resembling a gigantic foghorn in a gigantic ocean, along with the usual hordes of charging rhinos that flatten all with their hooves.
Juliana Venter is a new name…she’s from South Africa, has a political bent to all her work, and does composition as well as using her voice like a weapon against all that is petty and dull in man. Apparently she thinks big, doesn’t take no (or yes) for an answer, and constantly hatches plots and schemes for musical compositions that frighten lesser people. One of these, which may or may not have been realised, involves her shrieking along with an orchestra of motorcycles, which seems like it would be a memorable spectacle. Apparently she used to sing with The Mud Ensemble in Johannesburg in the 1990s, spent some time in London and met a member of Cabaret Voltaire, and went to Berlin in 2004. With Joseph Suchy, she made an album for Staubgold under the name Spooky Attraction From A Distance. If that’s her visage on the cover of that 2011 album, you can tell by one look at those baleful eyes that she means business.
I’m very keen on this form of wordless vocalising that she wrenches out from her spirit as though she’s being exorcised, and this isn’t to say it’s all shriek and terror – she can also do the icy-whisper thing in ways strong enough to reverse the effects of global warming (we wish). This is especially true of the B-side of this roary platter, where the duo perform ‘Moonunit’ with a glacial calm producing creepy nocturnal atmospheres where endless terrors lie in wait for the unsuspecting gnomes. That’s in contrast to ‘Concave’ on the A-side, which is mostly a flamethrower assault to the face and body (bring your own asbestos suit). In a way, this pair could be seen as the natural successors to Gira and Jarboe from Swans – bludgeoning guitars and punishing voices, all used to attain similar cathartic results. This one’s for the cement-mixers among you…issued in a black and red cover.
Online literary and art platform.
2017/08/10 by Willem De Vries Cape Town.
The consumer mentality creates insensitivity to people's expectations of what originality is. Therefore, some artists equate dissent with dissonance in their soundscape in an attempt to reveal something that is real in human existence. You need to know your field very well to make this happen.
Last Saturday in Cape Town, the vocalist Juliana Venter (Oslo and Berlin) and the virtuoso saxophonist Rolf-Erik Nystrøm achieved this with the varied concert entitled Human. By doing this, they exceeded all expectations for such a concert.
It is thus only fitting that man is central in this intimate performance: Venter and Nystrøm have here praised people who challenge the ways we see the world. Using music from the world map with lyrics by Rilke, Shakespeare, Ginsberg and Nordic poetry, they presented a freely eclectic, existentially charged and well-composed program.
Something more about rebellion in this regard: For someone like Vaclav Havel, it is about the dignity of humanity and (among artists) living an artistic life with integrity, which can benefit from this freedom. The background for his views is life during communism, but he realized that this also applies to the western consumer society. This type of rebellion is something that Venter and Nystrøm use in "Human" as inspiration for their resistance and freedom.
At the beginning of the performance, Nystrøm's saxophone slowly takes off. Venter comes into the room. Quiet, so clear, is her response to his enticing tones: Her unmistakable soprano. It begins to feel like a Japanese story, with sounds and pauses described with longing, voice and saxophone. The music changes and becomes foreign. Like something from a kabuki piece or war music by Xenakis, or both. Sometimes it seems as if Venter has become a medium for a haunting dadaist. Nystrøm plays on the saxophone's full sound palette, even as a percussion instrument.
Alienation through music is nothing new, but still: The way Venter and Nystrøm create surprising sound palettes, beckoning the audience to listen beyond the concert hall into the world. The electric in the expression removes, like alcohol on old paint, the idea of what a performance can be.
Venter is known for her sonic adventures. In her search for interesting outposts and meaningful extremes, she brings her unlikely singing talent along with a to the point approach. A relatively recent example of this was in 2015, a performance at the Detroit Vintage Garage in Salt River, South Africa, where she and the Sh ... Art-string ensemble, along with makhoyane and umrhubhe bow player Cara Stacey and an orchestra consisting of motorcycles, shared the floor. Unconventional orchestration is nothing new for this singer and composer. She breaks down boundaries between art, jazz, improvisation, opera, cabaret and electronic music.
She and the avant-garde (read: art that challenges both artist and audience, not the label that represents a pretentious statement) are as created for each other. In relation to the South African mainstream in the 90's, she stood for a kind of musical counterweight as a member of the group Mud Ensemble (1993-1999), and poems by poets such as Wopko Jensma and Johan van Wyk were set to music for this purpose.