Icon –  The Venus Fly Trap (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

It comes as no surprise to find out that the lives and career of the people who make music as The Venus Fly Trap are intrinsically linked to those of fellow explorers of dark music, Bauhaus. Same home town, same art college, same gigging circuit, Kevin Haskins was even to be found as their producer from time to time.

But if their backgrounds are closely intertwined, their music is less so. They may share a love of haunted, gothic soundscapes and brooding electronica, but where as Bauhaus  ploughed a bleak and cavernous furrow that seemed to be heading into post-punk hell, The Venus Fly Trap explore a wider musical palette. Whilst Bauhaus were often content to play with stark blacks and whites, Icon is an album fashioned from the myriad shades of grey found in between.

Songs such as Vitesse feel almost like eighties new pop, the cooler end of what would go on to become the commercial New Romantic wave, Flashback melds Gun Club grooves with B52’s warped deliveries and then ramps up the intensity until it feels more like the sound track to the last party before the apocalypse. Return of The Sidewinder plays with voodoo reggae grooves and opening salvo and title track is a wonderful spoken word, sci-fi collage that takes retro TV themes and throws them into the very future that they were trying to describe.

Icon covers a lot of ground within its chosen generic circle. Music of this nature, gothic if you want to call it that, often falls foul of cliche, of trying to live up to its own self-image. The Venus Fly Trap is cleverer than that and whilst it will still appeal to those kohl eyed creatures of the night, it will also find favour with a host of other discerning listeners.

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