Tuesday, June 2, 2020
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Artist: VIOLET
Title: Violet Ray Gas and the Playback Singers
Format: CD
Label: Sentient Recognition Archive/Zeromoon
Rated: *****
If you're remotely familiar with the US post-industrial underground spawning from cassette culture and later cdr labels, the name of Jeff Surak (Watergate Tapes, New Carrollton, V., Zeromoon label) will certainly not sound new. After years of low-run editions, this looks like a major release for his solo project Violet, and comes in a nice 6-panel digipack, with a layout that incidentally reminded me of Pere Ubu, or some obscure tape release. B/w pictures, stark xerox contrast, a depressing urban landscape, get it? The deep underwater drones of "Marionetki", swept away in the very last minutes by roaring distorted tones, surely bear traces of Surak's background, the seminal - if not always acknowledged - (non-)style of US post-industrial (Illusion of Safety, early O'Rourke, the Sound of Pig imprint etc.). But "Violet Ray Gas..." is generally a brighter, if moody and thoughtful, experience, where the dusty loops of old vinyls half-bury distant melodies ("Plague Numbers", "Snakehead Lapping"). Not far from Stars of the Lid, the last - and stronger - tracks are variations on string-based slit wrist melancholia: the bowing in "Violet Ray Gas", still recognizable and just streaked with electronic treatments, is transfigured in a lush droning mass in "Interior Ghosts".