I’m not sure at what point I decided I liked In Violet’s 2-record set entitled ep & epii. I listened to ep several times, perhaps as much as 30 or 40 plays. I listened to epii about half as many plays. I have to admit that there are other bands I prefer to listen to- but not out of a lack of respect for his bold style and experimental direction. In Violet is the creation of London producer Jake Murray. His music is, in certain passages, a stunningly deep aural landscape.
There is also a freshness that is exhilerating. On ep, Mr. Murray does not fret over one string twanging louder than the rest. I have been in the studio where the chord progression is created as perfectly as possible for one or two measures; then visually copied over and over to create the impression of perfection throughout the entire song.
Musicians wish it were so but live performance brings all kinds of exterior and interior (cough) problems that make it near impossible to repeat the perfection of that single measure pasted mercilessly over and over for your listening pleasure. In Violet thumbs their nose at this and the result is an honest record, warts and all. The guitar is a stringed instrument. Deal with it.
So what do we actually have here with In Violet? I believe we have an angry poet, a wise poet, and a dark poet. I believe Jake Murray is creating experimental/post progressive 1960′s psychedelia rock balanced with the strong reality of a folk poet. Jake views the world as it truly is; a place inhabited by more losers than winners, more wannabes than stars. Read his advice to the hungry young rockers with stars in their eyes. His words are brutally spoken. He is the killer of unreal dreams. But he is also the purveyor of hope.
I love the refrain at the end of City of Nomads. It is my favorite passage in the entire set. In Violet nailed that one to the wall.
I rarely write these words in a review: a huge strength of both albums are the lyrics- stark, unforgiving poetry from an artist who has been down in the trenches and knows the battle in life is never over until the last note is played over your grave. The tone of the stories in each song parallels the emotions I feel when listening to post rock.
When you compare the two EP’s, it is immediately clear that ep is the more accessible of the two records. There are smart hooks; the music is well-arranged with good structure throughout. Jake’s voice is lifted from a dream, heavily accented with Reverb and other vocal filters. His voice, after all the vocal treatments, reminds me of a male version of Grace Slick singing Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit.
The second, epii is more for fans of Vangelis. Epii also has some fairly rough passages where the vocals range off-key. When emotion pulls a vocalist flat or sharp on a live stage, we forgive those indiscretions. With an album you have no choice but to re-track the song or drop it from the playlist. You just don’t have the same luxury with vocals that you can take with a guitar.
I hope in the next phase In Violet includes more contributing artists. The input from other creative musicians would only enhance the excellent foundation already prepared. Who knows where their next destination will be if In Violet heeds their own advice and continues to ”Build up from the ground “.