Violens’ new album, True, finds the Brooklyn three-piece further amplifying their innovative songwriting with a palette of exquisitely crafted sound. The band’s music eludes classification, expertly blending percussive guitar work and silky harmonies, seeking the silver lining yet to be discovered between the sounds we know and love. With a wash of 90s sonic pop drawn from artists like Pale Saints, Cocteau Twins and McCarthy, Violens paint soft watercolor notes across their compositions, adding crucial emotional depth via layered vocal harmonies.
Violens was formed in 2007 by Jorge Elbrecht (a producer, multi-instrumentalist, and founding member of the art company Lansing-Dreiden). Their debut album ‘Amoral’ was self-recorded, self-produced, and is best understood as digital collage; a dark, guitar and synth-pop voyage of melodic and rhythmic collision.
True shifts course towards a more subtle and desaturated sonic landscape. The album’s first single, “Totally True,” demonstrates this with its stone-washed, semi-improvised feel, celebrating bands like The Chameleons and Martin Newell’s Cleaners From Venus. As the writing process for this second album began while traveling together on tour, it also showcases Violens as a more collaborative effort. Band members Iddo Arad (backing vocals, synths, guitar) and Myles Matheny (backing vocals bass, guitar) had a much larger influence on the songwriting and the album’s sonic direction. Framed by Will Berman’s distinctive drumming, True shows the band interacting and reflecting in ways both promising and exciting.
Throughout 2011 Violens kept up a virtual songwriting diary on their website, posting musical sketches as part of a continuous dialogue with their fans. In keeping with this practice, Violens will be premiering a song from Trueeach month leading up to the release of their LP. The first offering is “Unfolding Black Wings” (the band’s aural approximation of a Goya etching), a nod to ‘Daydream Nation’-era Sonic Youth and Thinking Fellers Union. While the song’s lyrics reflect upon a sort of unimaginable winged beast, the music conveys its attack with a forward-marching rhythm as unorthodox guitar tunings provide manic chord changes and blistering single-note melodies.
Then there’s “When To Let Go,” a classic mélange of guitar pop (not unlike ‘Sonic Flower Groove’-era Primal Scream) and 60s harmony groups (Zombies, Beach Boys, The Millennium). The song “Watch The Streams” features 60s ghost organs and a Brill Building pop beat that coalesces with stacked vocal harmonies. And then there’s “All Night Low,” a driving, fast-paced song with acid-drenched squalls of buzzing guitar and discord.
Violens condemns the very age we live in by singing it – twisting and mutating it – mutilating it, wearing its skin. Their music is forged of the third eye and of the fourth dimension, part architecture and part air, yet they are wholly rock: chiseled digital marble. There is real tangibility here: this is a group whose members are working together towards a common musical goal. More than ‘merely’ being a series of ethereal ideas and great guitar sounds, on True, Violens ties everything together with creative arrangements, original melodic ideas and passion.
Totally True / Der Microarc / When To Let Go / Sariza Spring / Every Melting Degree / Lavender Forces / Unfolding Black Wings / All Night Low / Watch The Streams / Lucent Caries / Through The Window / So Hard To See
Slumberland Records SLR169