St Werburgh’s Church darkly looms above the end of Friargate, a Gothic mass that is at once unavoidable and yet somewhat invisible in its redundancy. The doors have been shut for many years, a tantalising space into which no-one is able to find themselves now.
The tower and chancel of this building barely garner a glance as people cut through the churchyard on their way to or from Saddlergate. The doors are all assumed locked, the stones just ones that have always been there. It is an unremarkable part of the city scenery and yet…there is a secret. So well kept that most people don’t even know a secret is being held never mind what it might be.
This side chapel is looked after by the Churches Conservation Trust, historic but unassumingly so. It holds a stillness, a perpetual chill to its air, a reverence beyond any religion. It is a hidden space that most people ignore. It’s also an occasional gallery space and gig venue.
At the start of the summer the doors were opened and the alter was filled with the paraphernalia of experimental and psychedelic sound-making. It was the setting for the launch of the debut album from Diseases of Venus, the ‘One Man Soothing Psychedelic Freakout’ of Nathan James Cantrill.
For a one-man project this is an album of sumptuous depths, a rabbit hole down which we can pleasantly fall. Opening with a wash of sound, this is a tumble through the darkness, cosseted by waves of percussion, the vocals a distant echo calling us on.
As a whole the album flows through influences from Spiritualized to Boards of Canada slip by; this is tranquil experimental psychedelia in the most part, with only occasionally sinister and disconcerting undertones from off-kilter sounds and overlapping layers.
Launching the album within a church fits well with some of the tracks across the album, where vocals come further forward yet remain dreamy chants, where guitars peel like bells. Like the space it played out in there is a reverence to this album, a quiet calm impervious to the bustle of the world around it.
It is an unassuming gem within its genre, perhaps too easy to pass by and in doing so we miss the thrill of a discovered secret. Experimental, psychedelic of sound, awash with gently layered rhythms and fuzzed sounds.
Let this album be your light as the nights draw closer, sink into its warmth as a chill nips the air. Most of all buy this album and support an exciting artist hidden within our city.
You can find Diseases of Venus:
Psychospiritual Guitar Loops is out on white vinyl, CD and as a download. Find out more and order through the Diseases of Venus website.