London based band in violet (intentionally lowercase!) have recently finished their début album opal. Like that gemstone, this release glimmers with a variety of striking colours and unique characteristics. in violet's primary song writer Jake Murray wrote over 50 minutes of fresh atmospheric guitar rock for this new album. The material offers delicate soft textures, thunderous droning guitar, catchy percussion, all of which is blended with subtle and evocative ambient sounds. This isn't an album to chug down like a lime flavoured light beer on a hot day. opal is an album to absorb on a quiet night in front of a gentle fire under a sky full of stars with three fingers of aged scotch and nowhere to go.
One of the first things you'll notice about in violet is Jake Murray's distinctive vocals. Jake's sedate and sombre susurrations are initially unexpected and unfamiliar. However after a few listens I found a warmth within Jake's consistent tonality and understated delivery. It gives in violet's sound an intriguing dimension.
opal starts off strong with generous droning guitar, a compelling bassline and dark forbidding atmospheres on the track 'The Conch'. There must be a good story behind the next song which is entitled 'We're All Dying, Says Sylvia'. The song starts off slowly with just guitar and vocals. By the second verse however fuzzy guitar picks up and in violet's musical sea surges and churns for the rest of the track. The dirty guitar is unyielding until the song sharply ends, resonating with the words "You had everything to lose...You lose".
Next stop is the two part song 'The Hole'. Part one starts off with sputtering guitar reminiscent of an idling muscle car. The track drives off slowly with Jake's voice looming over the gutsy guitar and metallic percussion. Part one develops a great vibe that climaxes with some sharper jagged guitar riffs. Part two of 'The Hole' smooths out the jagged riffs with softer deep toned percussion and gentle acoustic guitar. The light atmosphere of the music disguises the distressing wail of the background vocals and the menacing lyrics: 'Nobody told us that we would regret/ The Hole it made sure we would never forget/ It ripped up the land and drank up the sea/ Destruction and mayhem you couldn't believe'. The lyrics throughout the album are imaginative and intriguing; often hinting at untold stories or shady experiences and all are well worth a read.
'13 birds' is brooding, slow and ominous. Jake's melancholy vocals work perfectly here making the song sound like a dark modern fairy tale about substance abusing adults. I expect the 13 birds are ravens or crows. Chilling and beautifully actualized.
Next in violet draw musical 'chalk lines' in another slow building, pensive track that finds Jake's unsettled vocals pushing out accentuated syllables. The track peaks towards the end with a soaring shimmer of sounds as Jake amplifies his pitch repeatedly echoing the words "chalk lines define you". There is some unusual percussion sounds and an occasional haunt from a flugalhorn which adds an alluring texture to the song. Then there is 'entomophobia'... A brilliantly executed creepy bug song highlighted with echoing and distorted vocals. It sounds like the musical embodiment of something that escaped from a dark corner of Tim Burton's closet. Entomophobia indeed, Entomophobia inducing perhaps! 'Entomophobia' is disturbingly evocative with the unsettling sounds of flickering, scurrying and fluttering bugs and lyrics that will set you on high alert. "Scratchy bugs everywhere. In your hair. In the dark they crawl around... exoskeleton breaks through crystal cocoon / Changes into something more / Winged doom." Pass me a can of RAID.
After the winged doom clears the room a ten minute journey through various lush soundscapes begins. The track 'polite' starts with light foreboding tones and wispy electronic percussion that possess a deeply haunting charm. This charm gets crushed however by sudden, very impolite roaring guitar. The soft/loud pattern blends into an intense guitar laden assault that closes the song. A stark low build to dramatic high on 'Polite'. Polite? Yes please.
'opal' is an impressive collection of songs by Jake Murray and in violet. Each track has a distinctive personality, singular vibe and tenacious voice. in violet create both soft haunting and boisterously noisy music. The album is engaging and complex, it requires extended exposure to be properly digested. It may take a few listens to appreciate in violet's divergent sound but it is time that will be well rewarded. The material is covertly seductive with songs that begin with gentle catchy melodies then rise up with drone laden guitar fury.
An impressive debut for in violet that illustrates the cleaver and creative musical mind of Jake Murray. Fans of atmospheric guitar rock should give 'opal' a few listens after they arm themselves with a flyswatter.