Violet The Sun is Shining and the Flowers are Blooming on Violet Street

[Scarcelight; 2005]

Rating: 3.5/5

Styles: musique concrete, noise, ambient
Others: Voice Crack, John Weiss, Brian Eno

Whether he's recording or performing in site-specific locations, noise veteran Jeff Surak has always been concerned with the space around him, and his work under the moniker Violet is no exception. This humble, three-inch CD works at creating places and atmosphere more than making music that moves forward. With a very subtle rustling, The Sun is Shining... begins with little more than a light accent to the surroundings that you're already in. Maybe it's the sound of water, or perhaps he's fixing his car in a sewer; it's hard to tell because it blends in so well with the cityscape that faintly bleeds through the windows of my apartment (I later discovered that this EP goes great with headphones.). I suppose fixing a car in a sewer is a little farfetched, but the sound of snoring that happens immediately afterwards is not. Yes, hard to believe that someone could find a solo section for snoring on a 21-minute EP, but Violet managed to do it. But both this and the car in the sewer are, again, part of an effort to create an environment around you, and it's not nearly as dull as words would make it seem.

With the mood lighting set, the centerpiece of the EP, "Priznak Aluminum (Holiday Suite for Foil)," makes all its preliminary patience and curiosity worthwhile. Violet weaves drones that sound as beautiful as they do menacing. Layers of distorted buzzing and aquatic hums drift in and out, harmonizing in seemingly coincidental ways. The effect, to give credit to the EP's title, is much like having to squint your eyes on an overly sunny day. The sound is bright and only gets brighter on the final track, "Dead. End (Live)," which sounds like "Priznak Aluminum" with the overdrive turned up and distorted beyond recognition. It's a short track that starts and ends abruptly, but is long enough to erase the cerebral beauty that came before it. Again, The Sun is Shining creates its own sense of space, only this time it's by way of volume and density.

These meditative explorations should have the power to transcend time, but the length of a mini CD provides too much of a constraint for that. Why the hell aren't mini CDs a dead medium anyway? There's certainly enough here to make noise connoisseurs and casual listeners of the genre nod their heads in approval. Fortunately, Jeff Surak (like most sonic explorers of his kind) has a behemoth back-catalog of homemade CD-Rs and small label releases for anyone who wants to dive further into his world.

1. Liebe Liebe. Amoure Amoure, Lyubov.
2. Priznak Aluminum (Holiday Suite for Foil)
3. Dead. End (Live)