DVD Review: Venus Hum – Mechanics and Mathematics

Generally speaking, Softsynth doesn’t review DVDs or concert films. But the folks at team Hum sent us an advance copy of their first concert film and we admit an absolute weak spot for the Hum and so here we are.

(And on that note – full disclosure – several folks have pointed out that Softsynth doesn’t really champion specific bands, rather we are inclusive of anything and everything in the whole wide world of electronic music. Venus Hum have been the one exception to that, and are, in fact, the only band we have set out to “champion” {see cloud tag to the right for a sense of how often we revel in this band}. Not only are they ridiculously original, not only are they great song writers with admirable fealty to the electronic cause, and beyond-thoughtful lyrics, and not only do we have a rather pathetic crush on singer Annette Strean, but they seem like such a nice bunch doing some really wonderful things in music and put quite simply, they deserve a much wider audience than they get. We adore this band, up and down and it’s a pleasure to get new material from them. It’s hard to be objective where this band are concerned but we try, lord knows we try…)

So, that out of the way, what’s the DVD like?One is first struck by the professionalism of the DVD. The production quality is far higher than one might have otherwise suspected. Director Neil Smith pulls off a pretty good show with multiple cameras and solid editing that makes the whole affair look like it enjoyed a larger budget than it surely did.

There’s also an interesting interview to lead off the process, though while it’s illuminating, and gives us some great insight into the inner workings of the band, it’s the lesser section of the DVD. It’s the music we’ve come to this party for.

They astutely point out what a valuable resource this kind of product can be for those who are unlikely to get to see the band in concert. (For example, living in Eastern Canada, we’ve all but given up hope of one day seeing them in concert), and it’s in that spirit that we come to the show.

We had mistakenly, in the past, taken Venus Hum as a laptop band when in concert but in fact throughout this concert they show remarkable musicianship. Tony Miracle proves equally adept at guitar as at some rather complex keyboard lines; both Miracle and Kip Kuban often fiddle with the ancient analogue synthesizers then stack as part of their live show. They are as fun to watch perform as they are to listen to (and it’s a treat to see the camera angles that capture what the keyboardists get up to, with shots that bear a resemblance to Depeche Mode’s classic “The World We Live in and Live in Hamburg” concert film.)

Singer Strean has never been in lovelier form and voice. Dressed in “sexy librarian” couture she is classy and still quirky as she bounces through the songs with a voice that makes clear how little her vocals are altered on record. This is not an Autotune band – they don’t need to be with a singer as crisp and clean as Strean. Her soaring vocal on “The Bells” will make the hair on your arm stand at attention.

Filmed in front of a small crowd in an old church space in Ohio, we are treated to a sampling of material from across the Venus Hum catalogue. Songs like “Mechanics and Mathematics”, “Hummingbirds”, “Montana” and “Bryan Sometimes” are solid winners but most interesting are the songs that this blogger never classified as among their strongest. songs like “Soul Sloshing” (which is note perfect and a highlight of the concert) and Bella Luna (which is nothing short of breathtaking and a perfect concert closer).

The DVD can be purchased through the Hum website, and there is a live CD to accompany the DVD available at Amazon, zune music, iTunes and eMusic. It’s a great product and well worth the purchase price. Support an electronic group that deserves more ears and eyes on them. It comes with the official Softsynth seal of approval…

Watch DVD trailer:


2 Responses to “DVD Review: Venus Hum – Mechanics and Mathematics”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by The Sleep, Fernando and Tony Miracle, Venus Hum. Venus Hum said: A lovely review of the Venus Hum DVD from the Softsynth blog. Thanks! http://bit.ly/dd72jk […]

  2. I was struck by how excellent this concert film was, too: http://modernsynthpop.com/venus-hum-live-dvd/.

    Here’s the rub: Unlike you, I’m not even a Venus Hum fan. Sure, I had heard of them and had checked out song snippets on iTunes, but nothing caught my ear. The lineup of songs the group picked to perform was excellent – there’s not a throwaway track in tbe bunch. And the performances by Tony, Annette and Kip are first-rate. Highly recommended!

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