Ellee Ven, the stage-name for one Jessica Kunin, has a specific significance, and one that is telling on her music. Pronounce it straight through, and you’ll come up close to a two-digit number that, for Ven, symbolises “two equals in perfect union”.
Many artists come up with a name on a hunch, a wing and a prayer, and in the succesful cases – like U2 – manage to make it work. In the worst case scenario, the band get’s sunk by a name that just doesn’t fit. It’s rare, though, to find an artist whose name stands for his/her music – so top marks to Elle Ven for that, because the music on offer here is harmonious, balanced and solid, all difficult things to achieve.
The best thing about Ellee Ven’s ‘groovetronic’ sound is it’s combination of compulsive beats and Ven’s voice which is soft, and deceptively gentle. Take a song like What am I running from , where Ven manages to convey a gamut of emotions ranging from fear through to a steely-eyed determination, without raising her voice.
The hard edged Signals is another case in point – where Ven’s smooth-as-silk voice blends perfectly with a sharp-edged and sinsister guitar theme, as the song deals with mismatched signals and their dangers.
Ethan Zuckerman, on his influential cultural blog, has written intelligently about homophily, or the tendency for people in the real and virtual worlds to seek out people who have the same cultural baggage and outlook as themselves. Homphily is a real and present danger faced by Ven with her solid but sometimes-too-safe sound. An example is, perhaps, the big radio-friendly you can buy me, with it’s Trio style da-da-da beats and obvious chorus. It’s at once the most commercial track on offer, and, in this reviewer’s mind, the weakest.
Much better is Just another thing featuring mc Prod-je, because it mixes things up and injects a bit of healthy discord into proceedings. On the whole, though, an impressive and imaginative debut from a self-assured and original artist.