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Music Waves meets Venus Loon
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The Internet has reshuffled certain cards, allowing musicians who are geographically distant to collaborate. Venus Loon is a duo consisting of Peter Lawson and drummer Wolfgang Ostermann. The former called on the latter to give his music a more organic feel. The guitarist tells us more about this project.

Where does the name Venus Loon come from? Is it a tribute to the T-Rex title ‘Venus Loon’  ?

Yes, I’ve always been a T-Rex fan and it’s a track a particularly like.

Initially conceived as a personal project, Venus Loon became a duo formed by you Peter and Wolfgang Ostermann (known for being the drummer of Frequency Drift). What explains this evolution and how did you come to collaborate?

Wolfgang kindly contacted me offering his drumming services in 2022, as I’d posted a comment on Facebook saying that I was not really happy with using a drum machine on my recordings. We initially agreed to record one album, but he was happy to collaborate a second time on the recordings which became “Pandora’s Paradox”.

Since 2021 you have released 4 albums (3 under the name of Venus Loon and one under your own name – "10 of Swords") and so in this year the 5th, what explains this great productivity?

I record a LOT, I retired from my day job a couple of years back, so I’ve had a lot of time to work on my recordings.

I’m very old fashioned in that respect !

We feel in this collaboration with Wolfgang the desire to free ourselves from digital programming and to have a very authentic and organic sound, why is this sound research important for the project ?

Because I’m not a fan of digital drums or digital manipulation of sounds. My recordings are pretty much analogue, i.e. I add effects etc, prior to recording the music into a DAW and I don’t use software to add sounds. I’m very old fashioned in that respect !

On headphones, you can feel this almost carnal relationship with the instruments, the blows on the drums, the friction of the guitar strings, a bass in the foreground... Is Pandora's Paradox a musicians' album in the noblest sense of the word that tends to get lost in current productions ?

I’d like to think so, but that’s really up to the listener. As mentioned, the album is essentially analogue and I hope that’s apparent.

How do you work together? Do you compose everything or is it a joint work ?

I record to a click track and then send the tracks to Wolfgang, who puts his drum work on top of them. They are very much joint compositions, as his drum lines dictate the way the tune progresses.

This album leaves a lot of room for music, with sometimes space rock passages with rare or even non-existent vocals. Is this near-absence of singing there so that the listener can feel the purest and freest emotion? Is this the best way for you to let your imagination run wild ?

In part yes, although I’m generally not a fan of vocal-heavy prog music. I actually think that occasional rather than frequent vocals have more impact on then listener.

I hope the music demonstrates a leaning towards the ‘70’s, as that was a particularly creative period

With a track like 'Padora's Paradox' in particular, we almost go back to the roots of experimental rock in the 70s, or even where musicians like Cocteau, Twins or Can for example did not set any limits in their creations. Today, music seems to be more formatted. What does this era represent for you and do you understand that people refer to this era when listening to your albums ?

Well Can and the Cocteau Twins are in my all-time top ten bands (I particularly love Can and Tago Mago is my favourite album of all time). I hope the music demonstrates a leaning towards the ‘70’s, as that was a particularly creative period in my opinion.

However, we can't talk about your work only in reference to the past because of a modern production, sometimes with the use of electro phases... Did you think of Venus Loon as a bridge between this time when you are picking up this thirst for experimentation and sounding current ?

No, not really, I don’t think as deeply as that! I think where music is concerned, there is no one time to aim for and it’s better to try to sound “different” rather than pay homage to a particular era. My favourite band is Cardiacs (I would never attempt to sound like them though!); their music is absolutely un-dateable, as their sound fits no particular genre and is unique to them. I love to think Venus Loon could produce something equally “outside of the box”.

'Speaking In Tongues' is a kind of interlude in the album with percussion prominent. It seems to mark a break with the first part of the album? Does it matter how the tracks are classified and can we say that "Pandora's Paradox" is a concept album ?

No, Pandora’s box isn’t a concept album, although most of my earlier albums were. I think Speaking in Tongues provides something truly different and is a showcase of Wolfgang’s incredible talent.

To be mentioned even in the same sentence as David Bowie is an honour!!

Indeed, the next track starts with a more acoustic and quasi-folk intervention ('The knight and the Knave') which evolves into a song that David Bowie would not have denied which is one of the most successful compositions of the album. What makes this song so special ?

Funnily enough, it’s a track I recorded a year or so before starting work on Pandora’s Paradox and it’s just sat on my hard drive; I nearly didn’t include it, but I’m glad I did, as it’s one of my favourite tracks now! To be mentioned even in the same sentence as David Bowie is an honour!!

The cover of the album is very elaborate with its gears, can you tell us more about the meaning? Does this mean that we are each the cog of another and therefore that we are dependent on each other ?

I wish I could give a meaning to it, but in reality it was a picture done by my son which Wolfgang and I chose out of several he’d suggested for the cover. I just liked it and I thought it was suitably “Proggy”!

The album ends in a very nice way with 'Dance Of The Dead' where the percussions and drums seem to have disappeared. Why end on this more atmospheric and spatial touch ?

Along with “The Knight and the Knave”, Dance of the Dead was another track I’d recorded a while back. I just think that any album worth listening to should have distinct variants within its tracks; if all the tracks sound similar, it loses the listener, irrespective of how good the band is.

Which of today's artists do you like to see whose work you like ? What attracts you to them ?

Not many really! Porcupine Tree/Steven Wilson are pretty amazing. Sterbus are fantastic for any Cardiacs fans and I’m a big fan of Temple of Switches too. Also, the latest incarnation of Gong is great, the Blue Orchids are excellent and I’ve been a fan of the Irish band Therapy? for years, so anything they release is instantly on my play list. I’m currently listening to a lot of Can, The Ramones, Amon Duul II and Cabaret Voltaire, so my musical tastes often involve bands who have long since departed.

Do you plan to be able to bring these albums to life on stage with Wolfgang ?

I wish! No, unfortunately it wouldn’t be possible, given the number of instruments utilised. Moreover, Wolfgang is based in Germany and I’m in the UK, so there are logistical and geographical issues and limitations. Wolfgang and I have never actually met in person (although we message each other regularly)!

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VENUS LOON: Pandora's Paradox (2024)

Claiming its old-school side with a more contemporary production, Venus Loon imposes its style on "Pandora's Paradox", between progressive rock and organic space rock.
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