Forgiveness & The Grain ends with “Seventy Six”, this monolithic slab of rock. Mike Vennart’s vocals call out across the sound landscape – not a soundscape, but a sound landscape – and they move outward and through everything from a singular position. Among all the sound; among all the bright, sludgy grandness there’s something very “central”. The song feels very much about Mike himself, and it’s a climactic ending to an emotional experience. However, it remains grounded, and that central thing seems to reach out.

Opener “Chapter X…” is (comparatively) minimal. It keeps the instrumentation drawn back and instead lets a sense of the theatrical congeal with a sense of tension. The vocals seem to hover alongside the instrumentation, letting forward imagery that drifts in unison far more than it initially seems.

All the songs are within an orbit of each other. Some sit closer to each other than others, but overall they feel as though from the same cloth. They flow well enough, and seem like they explore the dichotomy between the implication of sound and the implication of meaning…

I’ve been trying to think of what I can say about Vennart’s Forgiveness & The Grain for a while. When I first heard it, I had a rather strong and emotional reaction. I feel that getting into that wouldn’t say enough. At the same time, wouldn’t just covering my experience suffice? I don’t know, so instead I’ll touch on what happened when two other people heard songs from the album.

Recently I helped someone with approaching writing about music. For an exercise in describing music as it plays, I had them listen to “Fractal”.  They started off describing the song which was fine and expected. As the song went on it became quite clear that they were emotionally resonating with it. At one point they said something along the lines of “I feel like I’d be crying if I wasn’t doing this with someone”. They’d not heard anything involving Mike Vennart before.

Last week I went hiking with one of my friends. I included some of Forgiveness & The Grain on the driving playlist as I’d been wanting them to listen to the album. They weren’t too familiar with Mike’s work under his name and, as far as I’m aware, it’s not stuff they’d usually listen to. After hearing those songs we talked about how they felt. Then my friend sought out the album to listen to it later.

I don’t want to try to speak for how Mike feels about his music. I’ve read and heard him say stuff, but I can’t fully know. However, that two people who had little to no knowledge of his music – music that’s more outside their listening choices than it is in – to have strong resonance with hearing a small amount speaks volumes to me. It says a lot about Mike’s ability as an artist to reach out and talk to people.

Briefly touching on a few more songs, “Casino” sounds light and airy, and has this sort of laid-back feel. “The Japanese No” follows after and some of its guitar work sounds dejected. The two sound far away from each other, but they sit comfortably, both together and with the rest of the album. Forgiveness & The Grain is heavy; not all songs sound like “3 Syllables”, “Luminous Target” and “Seventy Six”, but overall it’s an emotionally weighty experience. But it doesn’t feel like it’s beating you over the head; It’s affecting without being draining. It’s an album that’s personal in nature, but it’s universal.

Forgiveness & The Grain is available here and here.