Lake of Violet’s debut album, The Startling Testimony of Plumb Lines, is the sound of Rick Deckard fleeing LA with Rachel, pondering his own identity and the fate of his replicant lover. It’s the sound of Roland Deschain, pursuing the Man in Black across the sands of Mid-World. It’s the sound of getting lost in the afterlife, seeking answers to the mysteries of life that still haunt you.
None of this, by the way, is an attempt to sound overly pretentious, I promise. These are simply my stabs in the dark at trying to sum up what this record does inside my head as I listen to it. But let’s back up just a bit to get some concrete facts established…
Lake of Violet is a new project from André Foisy of Locrian and Anthony Michael Couri of The Cedars of Lebanon, on guitar and drums, respectively. They enlisted the help of Neil Jendon (Catherine) and Jacob Essek (Sun Splitter) to flesh their original compositions out into the final results that populate The Startling Testimony of Plumb Lines. And the six tracks here truly are compositions, with an almost classical sense of direction and arrangement. Again, at the risk of sounding pretentious, what these fellas have created here are more musical journeys, not just verse-chorus-bridge-chorus progressions. Guitars ebb and flow while tribal rhythms pulsate, giving the entire experience a cohesive feel and unity. That said, each song is its own vibe, even if each ends in a completely different place from where it started.
Indeed, the album itself ends up miles away from where it starts, musically-speaking. On first listen, the opener, “Backwards Light” brings to mind some of Tool’s spacier creations, raging as it does with vibrancy and power. But then it starts to devolve into something looser, more free-flowing with “Circles in Red Dirt.” We’re greeted by percussion and the sounds of whispers, chimes, and slowly dripping water. At this point, my brain started harkening back to the music of Red Sparowes and Windmills By The Ocean, searching for footholds of understanding to frame what I was hearing. Vocals across the record are sparse, but when they hit, they have a greater impact due to their minimal presence. They have a primal essence about them, often functioning as chants hellbent on either exorcising a horde of spiritual beings or possibly summoning them to our beck and call, as on “Bastard and the Infinite.”
Yet for all its otherworldliness, this record also feels deeply human. The closer, “Please Stay Longer,” is poignantly the shortest song of the whole epic. The title is sung as a plea, floating over a shimmering sea of synths and acoustic guitar. The intimate scope of this song somehow fits and complements the vastness of what’s come before and bring the record to a perfect end.
I love this album. In the short time I’ve had it for this review, I’ve listened to it about five times through, with many more trips planned for the future. I can’t recommend it highly enough. I’m so thankful that it exists. And with that, I also want to extend a quick shoutout to Adam at Gilead Media. While I’ve never had the pleasure to meet him in person, I’ve watched what he’s built over the years with that label and it’s nothing short of impressive. I’m incredibly grateful that he and Gilead are around to give music like this a platform where it can be heard. So thanks Adam! And thanks to Lake of Violet for crafting such compelling music.
– Jeremy Hunt