Violens – Amoral

Release Date 04/10/2010 (Static Recital)

By Mark Massey

Whenever you hear of another band from NYC, you have to think, are they really from NYC or have they just relocated there and adopted the NYC brand name because it’s ‘cool’?  Violens are one of the latest acts to come out of the city peddling their debut album, Amoral, which is due to be released shortly.

Maybe, you think NYC and you think of artiness and aren’t surprised to see the description ‘art-rock’ attached to the trio.  Maybe you then think of Sonic Youth or the Velvets.  Then maybe, you’ll listen to them and find it hard to think of their sound as American at all.

Right from the beginning of the first track, ‘The Dawn Of Your Happiness Is Rising’, there’s a distinctly British, 80s, synth-pop sound.  The song is led by a bass groove over which each instrument joins in bar by bar, and it does almost seem a little cheesy and anachronistic, yet it’s perversely satisfying, like one of your own farts…

The ‘art-rock’ moniker is not immediately apparent, but by the end of the opener it is sounding quite good.  The vocals walk an androgynous tightrope between those of LeBon and Bernie Sumner, carried on waves of phase and reverb.

One of those vocal comparisons begins to stand out more on the second track, ‘Full Collision’, whose melody is reminiscent of something from New Order’s Technique.  Then a hint of that NYC sound can be detected on the next track, ‘Acid Reign’, with its Interpol-esque staccato guitars.  This has the feel of a single.  So, no surprise then that it is.  And it’s a tune.

The media have been comparing Violens with 60s psyche groups, such as The Zombies, but it can’t really be heard on Amoral.  The only place where a 60s influence is bleedin’ obvious is on ‘Violent Sensation Descends’, with it’s Beach Boys style vocal harmonies.

Amoral isn’t particularly ground-breaking stuff, as the first listen had me thinking of Mansun’s Six, which sported a similar 80s sound given a darker, experimental edge with atonal guitar hooks, and floaty verses thrust out of kilter by some sudden unexpected change of direction and tempo.

Like Six, it seems upon first listen to lack coherence at times, but it hangs together in a way that suggests it might fall apart in any other order.  The album’s title track is a dark, noise-instrumental with sampled speech about ‘horrific’ dreams, that has a nightmarish quality, but you wouldn’t stick it on the jukebox.  It’s definitely an interlude.  And the last track, ‘Generational Loss’, while being quite a beautiful instrumental collapsing into white noise, is a track that has that ending-to-something feel.

Amoral does have immediate appeal and is quite moreish. I’ve already given it a fair few plays, and it’s definitely one for the ipod.  There are a fair few tracks on it that stand out as potential singles, and most likely will be, but overall it does work better as a package.

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