Luxury in Deceit
Venom Vampires’ Luxury in Deceit is the sort of release that really epitomizes the approach of Berlin’s Detriti Records; identifying a low profile act plying an obscurish and often unfashionable style of electronic or darkwave music, and ginning up a collection of their new and existing tracks. Let me assure you as one of the label’s devotees that the formula pays off more often than it doesn’t, with Venom Vampires being an excellent case in point: the Texas new beat/body act’s music is gritty and groovy in equal measures, making up for what it lacks in sleekness in DIY charm.
The sound of Luxury in Deceit falls roughly into two schools, either going full on classic body music with samples in place of vocals a-la “Welcome to Paradise”, or low-down mid-tempo new beat with distorted vocals that borders the earliest strains of dark electro. The former style is epitomized by the versions of “Axiom” that bookend the release – the halting funk of its bass and drum programming punctuated by sizzling synths and the voice of a televangelist warning the listener about “the devil, and demons, and witches, and wizards”, complete with triggered stutters for affect. Venom Vampires keep the bounce and movement going when they go this route, see how the electro bassline of “Red Warning” is mirrored by bouncing synth leads and sample placement between drum hits.
The generally more menacing low-voiced vocal tracks are no less funky, with a pleasing amount of pep in their delivery. The warped synths and orch hits on “Sharpshooter” might be a bit more forward in the mix, but there’s a pleasing slickness with which the voice of singer Tohm Thicken either slides across the track or adds rhythmic counterpoints, depending on how long the tail of the delay is allowed to grow. And the title track makes excellent use of lo-fi guitar samples and plinky toy-sounding keys to keep things playful against Thicken’s monotone recitations. Interestingly the alternate version, “Deceit in Luxury” splits the difference for Venom Vampires, sanding the vocals down and playing up the bass synth for a proper old school 12″ dub feel.
You could characterize Luxury in Deceit old school, and to an extent you’d be right; both by virtue of its cheap and cheerful analogue production and direct fealty to un-reconstructed styles of electronic dance music of a bygone era. Whether intentionally or not, Venom Vampires’ invocation of these styles captures the unrefined charm and most importantly the sense of raw fun that infuses them.