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Violet. The Sun is Shining & the Flowers are Blooming on Violet Street 3"CD
Jeff Surak (aka Violet) is a veteran experimenter from Washington, DC. He began recording under the moniker -1348- in the early 1980s and participated in the hometaper underground. He released his music on his own Watergate Tapes imprint along with other artists such as Controlled Bleeding, Kapotte Musik, Odal, F.A.R. and collaborations with John Hudak, Crawling With Tarts, Zan Hoffman and others. Surak also performed and toured with his live unit New Carrollton creating improvised post industrial soundscapes.
During the early 1990s Surak spent most of his time living in Russia, where he formed the noise group Sovmestnoye Predpriyatiye (Joint Venture) which did site specific performances. In the late 90s, Surak returned to recording and live performance with the free music duo V. After releasing numerous recordings and touring the USA, V. disbanded and Surak focused on solo works under the name of Violet, creating organic irrational compositions, using electro-acoustic instruments and tape/cd/vinyl manipulations. Surak has recently collaborated with Alexei Borisov, Frans De Waard, Betrand Denzler, Andrey Kiritchenko, and numerous others. Surak also heads the label Zeromoon releasing music in varous formats.
01. Liebe Liebe, Amoure Amoure, Lyubov
|: design by nullvoid.net, photos by mike honeycutt
Jeff Surak has been kicking around various dark corners of the world's
experimental music closet for more than two decades. Now based in
Washington DC, his latest projects are solo works done under the name
Violet. His newest discographical entry is The Sun Is Shining And The
Flowers Blooming On Violet Street (Scarcelight 3" CD). The three pieces
here are cobbled together from a variety of sources. My favorite might
well be the modulated snoring that ends the first piece but the
mermaidy epiphanies of "Priznak Aluminum (Holiday For Foil)" is pretty
hep as well. Anyway, the three tracks here are aggressive at times
without being harsh, and they hold together like beautiful rats hugging
a sinking ship. Which is a pretty friendly thing to do. |
Byron Coley - The Wire February 2006
God, how I love the sound of water. I have been thinking of creating my own song based on this, after I finish all my other projects! Here we find water dripping onto a metal-ish surface. A hollow wind sounds,
similar in effect to what you hear when you put your ear to a metal tube or sea-shell. In the same track later on we hear a snoring fellow - I can assume it is a guy but after hearing my sister-in-law snoring
through the walls this could be up for grabs, gender-wise. It isn't an obnoxious loud snore, just a light wheeze during REM sleep. Underneath this are some microsound tonal shifts. The following track is more in
the musical vein as opposed to the location sound idea in the first track. But, don't expect melodies. Tones shift over scraping sounds. This could be a variety of layered found sounds or it could be 'composed.' The final track builds to an intense white-wall-of-noise track, the best part of which that makes it differ is that it stops abruptly, no fade out here. This really jolts your out of your reverie!
Even the most indulgent listener might find his/her patience tested when a CD devotes space to snoring sounds,
as Violet (Washington-based Jeff Surak) does in “Liebe Liebe, Amoure Amoure, Lyubov,” the opening piece on
this twenty-one minute, three-inch CD (admittedly, it's accompanied by more interesting sounds of howling
wind, rain dribble, and rustling clatter). If you're more annoyed than amused by the idea, stick around
for the recording's centerpiece “Priznak Aluminum (Holiday Suite for Foil),” an industrial drone of
heaving foghorn tones and seething crackle that glacially escalates in volume and intensity over
twelve-minutes. The blurry, piercing roar of “Dead.End (Live),” on the other hand, kicks into gear
within seconds and stays there for a full three minutes. For the record, the Scarcelight site clarifies
that Violet creates “organic irrational compositions, using electro-acoustic instruments and tape/CD/
Another little disc of noise that manages to put down a flag on hitherto unchartered waters of
the noise-landscape. But don�t get fooled by the obvious aural difference of snoring- and
watersounds to the drawn out noise-experiments also contained on �the sun is shining ��,
because that would be too much of concentrating on the surface.
A record consisting of field recordings has a hard time usually, especially when those sounds are
mostly unmanipulated everyday indoor sounds, e.g. of water running or someone�s snoring(!).
Not only do they have to fight the �I can hear that all the time�-sentiment �
which wouldn�t be so bad if those speaking those words sat down once in a while to listen to
these sounds at all � and the clutter of everyday noise already surrounding the listener. And
another word to the �unmanipulated�: A lot of times I can�t tell if sounds are
really unmanipulated. The closer I try to listen the more my concentration starts to play tricks on me
and I hear all kinds of micro-tonal shifts, clicks and scratches here and there, which could be from
everywhere between the digital date stored on a CD to the innermost kernel of my brain, not excluding
the sound a stereo-set makes when producing sounds. In this way my ears seem to still receive some high
frequency after this CD has stopped. Maybe some kind of telepathic signal from somewhere?
The easily discernible basics of the opening track aside and also foregoing the earsplitting noise
drone of the third, the second � and in some ways central � track of �the sun is
shining and �� is definitely the centrepiece of this record. Sounds processed to build the
impression of being somewhere inside a cave with water dripping into some big sea below the surface of
the earth and a machinery softly working behind the walls of the cave. That is where the journey starts,
but I won�t give away as where it leads to, but there is more machinery, aluminium foil, glaciers
and human minds involved.
Violet is Jeff Surak, who has done sound experiments beginning from the Eighties, spent most of the Nineties
in Russia doing life performances and now lives in Washington DC (where he was born), where he runs the
Zeromoon label. Currently he is involved with two groups: Normal Music and Critikal (with Andrey Kiritchenko
and Jonas Lindgren). His list of collaborations and discography is enormous, even though most of it remains
strictly in the underground (Alexei Borisov and Frans de Waard being among the better known names.) I guess
this is as good as an introduction to the man as anything, if you have missed out these last two decades.
(like me, which is further proof that there is a lot of interesting music out there if you only started listening.)
Releasing Violet is taking the band from CDR and MP3 format to a real
CD, even when it's a 3". The man behind Violet is Jeff Surak, who has
been active inside experimental music for more than twenty years,
always renewing himself. It's not easy to give a good description of
the music of Violet. It's a strange but well-made mixture of field
recordings, electro-acoustic sounds, ambient glitch and noise. In
Violet's pieces he built up usually from some mid-range volume to a
louder crescendo, in 'Priznak Aluminum (Holiday Suite For Foil)'
using a thick layer of looped guitars - even when the title suggest
tinfoil. A bit psychedelic here, but quite nice, and 'Dead. End
(live)' shows Violet's capacity to make some violent noise. If you
came across this name before and didn't know what it was about, then
time has come to find out.