Album review: Vennart – Forgiveness & The Grain

Manchester-based alt.rock veteran and Biffy-assister Mike Vennart reactivates his solo project with fourth full-length Forgiveness & The Grain…

Album review: Vennart – Forgiveness & The Grain
Olly Thomas

With Forgiveness & The Grain, Mike Vennart has forged an often-solemn mood piece that exists at the more elegiac end of his considerable catalogue. From his time leading cult concerns Oceansize to last year’s Empire State Bastard debut, the guitarist has, by his own reckoning, now made 10 albums in two decades, a panoply of sounds united by discerning songcraft and questing spirit. Here, his focus has shifted away from the anthemic tunes he's played as a member of Biffy Clyro’s live band in favour of something more intimate. The result is a listening experience of slow-burning depth and charm.

On Chapter X Whereupon I Immediately Did Nothing and R U The Future, patiently unfurling alt-prog balladry hints at the airy textures of Peter Gabriel or fellow Manchester-dwellers Elbow. While there’s a delicate accessibility to these tunes, Fractal is a woozily delightful piece with no rhythm track that becomes increasingly overcome with distorted guitar squall. That this was the track Mike chose to be the first released ahead of the album demonstrates a willingness to push the sonic envelope.

Further experimentation comes with Seventy Six, on which Mike really cuts loose over ten minutes of monolithic, clanging power chords and pummelling drums. More familiar-sounding are Three Syllables and Luminous Target, both soaring rock tunes reminiscent of Oceansize and their similarly underrated contemporaries Amplifier. It’s the twinkling guitars and understated vocals of Casino and The Japanese No, however, that feel more characteristic of this album’s distinctive atmosphere.

Quiet and enveloping, these songs don’t need flash or extravagance to create a little world of their own.

Verdict: 4/5

For fans of: The Pineapple Thief, Amplifier, Oceansize

Forgiveness & The Grain is released on February 2

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