I'm still at work experience for the rest of this week, so I'm tired and can't really be bothered with listening through lots of brand new albums, so I'm going to stick with quite old, but still relatively unknown records. Today's review is on New York quintet Violens, and their debut album, 'Amoral'. Upon first glance, you might suspect a lot of messy music recorded on drugs, but instead we're treated to a good dose of psychedelia pie, from which the blackbirds of 60's sunshine pop spring. Their sound is one of rich orchestration, lush in it's tales of nightmares and thought-provoking speculation, and recorded in a style not unlike that present in the eighties, which is weird to listen to, in a good way. I did get a headache, but I attribute that to my work experience rather than the throbbing bass that runs through the sewers of this record! If you like The Shins or Neutral Milk Hotel though, then you're bound to love this. It's simply a brilliant debut effort.
I'll start with the most shocking song, and the one most sonically different to the rest of this twelve track album. 'Amoral', from whence the record title is taken, is a nightmarish midnight walk through an old house, the floorboards creaking and the tap dripping into a stained sink. A man, squalid in the corner, groans and coughs, his dry throat relaying an image seared into his mind, stroking a lifeless rat in childlike terror. Violins, in keeping with the band, emulate this fear with their haunting notes, underlined with a thick, oozing drone. The instrumentation and soundscapes crafted within these two minutes is outstanding and the track somehow manages to feel at home within the record, which was a surprise for me considering the sound between them is so radically different. Fantastic.
'The Dawn Of Your Happiness Is Rising' feels very shoegazey in it's electronic quirkiness, with vocals breezy and floaty from Jorge Elbrecht, leading the mood through a quietly captivating afternoon stroll, the smell of freshly mown grass filling your nostrils. 'Full Collision' is more upbeat but no less lovely in it's reverb lathered backing vocals. It again, feels very sunny and happy in it's psychedelic messiness, with the overbearing orchestration at the end lifting the band to an almost anthemic bombast. The lead single from the album, 'Acid Reign', has bemoaning vocals that croon, while retaining that sugary feel, which rocks and flows with electronic beats. There is something very, dare I say it, new wave about the sound here, skipping along through meadows of glittering synthpop.
Violens manage to merge the experimental and the pop together in a manner very sweet, but in keeping that as a top layer, it crumbles in parts to reveal the thundering, ominous thoughts behind the music. It's a great joy to listen through this album and to take it apart, figuring out the pain and suffering which sparks the lyricism and atmosphere surrounding every track. Having said that, the hooks and melodies aren't that memorable, leading me to the opinion that this is a once in a while album, not demanding your attention as much as others. My favourite track is 'It Couldn't Be Perceived', on which the synthesisers come into play as a major tool, building the music to a ballad like level, with notes absolutely perfect in pitch. 'Violent Sensation Descends' harks the most back to older sounds, but the finisher, 'Generational Loss' is just amazing. The raindrops pounding throughout the track emulate a loneliness and solemn tranquility, the likes not seen in the rest of the songs. All in all, this isn't a half bad record, and I earnestly encourage you to investigate it's corridors and rooms, weary of the nightmares hiding in the basement, crucial as foundations but threatening an apocalyptic collapse into chaos!