A Journal Of The Dark Arts
Voices From The Hell was the first LP from anonymous Techno producer Violet Poison, after a series of EPs, released in March 2013 on Hospital Productions. Violet Poison have risen in prominence and visibility, collaborating with Shapednoise as Violetshaped, and running the Violet Poison label. He is a lynchpin, and a good illustration of the emergent ruined analog Techno set, the kind favored by Hospital Productions, a blending of lo-fi, antiquated electronics and processing and filthy rough-hewn beats. And while VFTH has a similar aesthetic to artists like Ron Morelli , there are differences, as well. Violet Poison seems way more rooted in dub, swathed in echoes, gentler, more distant. It’s an ethereal brand of Techno.
Voices From The Hell comes on with “Beyond The Door”, with distant, looping, echoing temple drums, smarmed with reverb and a pulsing, growling bass drone, as ancient voices whisper past yr ears. It sounds like finding some hatch in the earth, and placing yr ear to its metallic surface, hearing some Egyptian ceremony from the bowels. If Porto Ronco‘s hatch led you to some abandoned space station, then Voices From The Hell is an orbiting mechanical pyramid. There is the feeling of ancient machinery resurrecting, arcane furnaces springing to life, the lights flashing in hieroglyphic tunnels. Yr piss-scared, but you can’t help but go on. Its too thrilling, too curious.
The mnml dub techno leaning really starts to rear its head on “Asphyxia”, as the machinery starts to breathe and spark to life. Simple, repetitive clicky dust mites dance over a surface of swooning, chugging oily water, pulling you into its murk.
Then all hell breaks loose on “Spooky Pendulum”, as yr chased down ancient ruined temple halls by the Rhythm Of The Heat.
You finally reach the inner sanctum on the title track, as disembodied Italian voices murmur over a slow/n/stately 4/4 bass pulse, and more ducking, ruinous hypnosis. This is the mechanistic ritual, the machine trance.
Voices From The Hell is a good illustration of all that is right and (un)holy about this record. First of all: the beats. Its the simplest thing on Earth (or above it), but it sounds so great! So solid, so punchy, never too loud. A pure and perfect pulse that kicks in just the right way. From there, the swooning degraded machine tones, definitely a synth but not exactly a melody, gives this that perfect degraded lo-fi quality, that cheap dithering noisebox effect, but its not harsh. Its mixed just so. So much of the time, with cheap or noisy electronics, they’re mixed so harshly or not at all. Digital distortion hurts my ears, wears me out after a very short time, whereas records that have some analog in the chain, or have placed the levels in the right ways, and it sounds warm and generous, hypnotic and trancey rather than grating or boring.
And that’s why i’m so fascinated with these emerging trends. There are so many good signal degraders out there, so many ways to mangle and process audio, but you’ve got to work it. You’ve got to sculpt those tones, but when you do, it can work wonders. It can take you places.
I would definitely say that people who like dub techno, either classic, like Rhythm & Sound, or contemporary and experimental, like Loscil (as mentioned above), Pole, or some Pye Corner Audio, NEED to hear this. Same goes for fan of vintage, lo-fi electronic sounds, like vintage John Carpenter soundtracks, also fans of contemporary beat sculptors like Ekoplekz or Vatican Shadow, and the locked grooves of Muslimgauze. But while Violet Poison may have a lot of sonic similarities and forebears, this is not recreationist or revisionist techno. Rather, VP uses the machinery of the past to create original and innovative psychscapes.
This makes Voices From The Hell a virulent strain of retrofuturism, but handled in a very modern and intentional way. It reveals something very interesting, and essential, about the current climate.
1. THERE ARE TOO MANY OPTIONS: even the simplest digital synth is infinitely more powerful and flexible than the early oscillators, and you could spend 12 years just fudging with envelopes or building drums out of coat hangers.
Its hard to know where to go, where to turn.
so, 2. ANALOG HAS SOUL: there is a feeling, a presence to any signal that has known air, has seen the light of day. It makes a HUGE difference when people who take the time to re-record and hand process their audio, and automatically makes it stand apart from work made entirely ‘in the box’, digitally. Its the difference between a Macintosh Plus record and a Vangelis score.
The thing of it is, when you hear well done, well thought out, well placed, carefully mixed and recorded music of any stripe, it inspires you. It shows you how its done. It trains yr ears, hones yr instincts.
So for those that have a yen for late ’70s electronics and dub delays, let Violet Poison show you how its done.
He (she? they?) put it eloquently, speaking to Secret13, ““there is no future without past”.
The nice thing about writing yr own blog is you can post whatever the hell you feel like, whenever the hell you feel like. It irritates me that you can only talk about a record for 5 minutes after its been made, like it ceases being relevant after that. VFTH is entirely relevant and of the moment, even if it was made 13 months ago, and i’ve been giving myself headaches trying to know what to write about, to keep up with each passing trend and every big release. I want to try just writing about what i feel like writing about, perhaps organizing them into themes as i go. I expect to write a lot more this way.
You can hear Voices From The Hell at Spotify:
or grab a copy from Amazon: Voices From The Hell
you can read another fine review of VFTW as this blog i just discovered, i die you die.
and check out this superb mix for Secret13!