As a genre, house music is easy to make, but very difficult to do well. Women Who Kill (or Johan Venter as his parents call him) do it well. Latest release Yuri, is a collection of 5 tracks all beautifully and expertly layered to create a slightly unfamiliar style of house music through its intricacies.
The first thing that catches attention is the tremendously minimalist artwork consisting basically of a hand and a face intentionally badly photoshopped onto a blue sky background. The simple image seems juxtaposed against the extremely nuanced music, despite the fact that house music as a genre is simple – almost too simple in fact for a musician obviously as talented as Johan Venter to be making.
This is most apparent in album opener ‘Stand By Me // Davie Hogan’. The track establishes its laid back beat immediately which does not change throughout the entire nearly 6-minute song. The same can be said for the melody, a simple but brilliantly effective line consisting only of minor chord tones that does not change throughout the song. This is fine and works well in context, especially with most interest being created through the harmony, but is the first example of Johan Venter seeming restricted by the genre. There is magic in every track, but there could be a lot more should he expand on some of his melodic ideas.
Because the melodies are brilliant. All genius in their simplicity, from the mainly two-note delay line of 7 minute track ‘Blue Funk’, to the similarly plain melodic ideas of ‘Aren’t You Even Gonna Kiss Me Goodnight?’. While the beats are superb, the biggest strength of the EP is the ingenuous lead lines, made twice as strong when contrasted with the complicated rhythmic patterns.
It’s difficult to make instrumental music interesting, but on this fully instrumental EP, Women Who Kill is very successful in doing so – for at least 2 minutes of each track. House music is characterised in a large way through repetitive 4 bar patterns, and with this said there is not much room for the rest of the ideas that one suspects Venter has. In context, “Yuri” is brilliantly complex, it would simply be great to hear what else Women Who Kill have up their sleeve.
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Listen to “Yuri” below on Soundcloud.