2009. Viridian Sun is a duo focusing on abstract improvisation, featuring Hypnos
founder Mike Griffin, and Hypnos solo artist David Tollefson. Their last studio album Perihelion
was released a full decade ago on Hypnos, though VS continued to record together and occasionally
perform live. The new album Infinite In All Directions moves into slightly different sonic material, downplaying synthesizer
electronics in favor of guitar and bass guitar, electronically treated and looped. The result
combines sustained, blissful drones, along with occasionally strange, complex overlapping loops.
For a retrospective of the sound of Viridian Sun, including two tracks from the new album, as well
as rarities and unreleased tracks, listen to the first Hypnos Podcast:
Hypnos Podcast 01.
Those interested may also check out a bit of background on the Hypnos Forum, along with photographs of the recording
sessions, for the new album over the past eighteen months here.
This is the first release on Hypnos featuring our new, simplified packaging. Click
here to see a photograph of the assembled
package, which includes CD and booklet inside a translucent envelope. It should be clarified
that despite the new packaging, Hypnos releases are still proper, manufactured CDs, and not CDRs.
The envelopes are heavy, translucent
recyclable paper, not true vellum (in other words, these are not made from animal skin).
Many Hypnos listeners have asked over the years when we'll release something new by Viridian Sun, and we now
present an album that may be their best yet: Infinite In All Directions.
Track listing with MP3 samples:
1 > infinite in all directions > 13:31 mp3 clip
2 > parallax drift > 07:13 mp3 clip
3 > four times I slept for a year > 09:46 mp3 clip
4 > travel at absolute zero > 05:03 mp3 clip
5 > 40 Hz emergence > 05:41 mp3 clip
6 > magnetars cast no shadow > 12:52 mp3 clip
7 > light years from here > 08:58 mp3 clip
"The relative wild card of the four, Viridian Sun's Infinite In All Directions is a different animal altogether. The group itself is a joint venture into abstract improvisation
involving Hypnos founder Mike Griffin and Hypnos solo artist David Tollefson, whose last Viridian Sun album, Perihelion, appeared a decade ago. Eschewing
synthesizers, Griffin and Tollefson build the album's seven tracks from electronically treated and looped guitars, basses, and percussion. On the surface, there's
not a radical degree of difference between Viridian Sun and the other artists in terms of sound—tones stretch out as extensively on Infinite In All Directions as they
do on the other recordings, and Griffin and Tollefson also shape their base elements into sustained drones—but in a number of pieces the elements themselves are
often harder-edged and swell to more extreme levels of intensity and aggression (check out the industrial guitar squalls that blow through “40 Hz Emergence” as an
example—in a way that's a tad reminiscent of Steve Reich's Electric Counterpoint too). The material also often exudes a trippy character that verges on psychedelic
or phantasmagoric. At certain moments, for example, “Four Times I Slept For A Year” becomes an almost kosmische musik-like exercise when cycling elements
pulsate to psychotropic effect. Elsewhere, sheets of metallic sound surge during “Magnetars Cast No Shadow,” and phantom guitar drones spiral through “Light Years
From Here.” The rawness of Viridian Sun's attack may give Infinite In All Directions a visceral edge over the three other recordings, but again it's all quality stuff that
more than enhances Hypnos's reputation for distinguished soundscaping."
--Reviewed by Textura.org
"Recorded live using just guitars, voice, percussion and looping and processing tools, Viridian Sun's Infinite in All Directions is a nicely varied wash of drones and
textures, a disc that can challenge the ear one moment and deeply engage the mind the next–often in the same track.
Mike Griffin, head of Hypnos Records, and collaborator David Tollefson coax an array of noises from their instruments as they go, building moments and movements in
dependent, largely minimalistic layers, always with the sense that they are waiting for the next correct place to assail and mutate the sound. Vaporous guitar washes
discover sudden-but-fleeting moments of solidity, the actual, recognizable sound of a guitar, unfiltered, coming in like a beacon in the sonic mist. And this mist is
dense, often quite deep and, across the breadth of the disc, dark. There is an intensity to Viridian Sun, an edginess of feeling, which is where the more challenging
aspect of it comes from. As you’re being wrapped in sounds that can range from feedback to static in points, if they can be defined at all, there is a sense of this
piece, this moment, being inescapable–an understanding that no, this is not easy and yes, you are expected to see your own way through to the other side and then keep
Infinite in All Directions will set better with listeners who like their stuff dense, abstract and droning, with heavy doses of darkness and experimentation. Griffin and
Tollefson have crafted a constantly moving, beatless and expressive space that welcomes only the committed listener. But the rewards are worth the time and effort it
takes to fully dive into this disc."
--Reviewed by Hypnagogue
"Roughly ten years ago, the Hypnos ambient label was a 'magical' discovery for me: I had progressed from the
obligatory, lyric ridden rock-n-roll of my generation into the obscure & somewhat marginalized musical
world of King Crimson, Robert Fripp, David Bowie & Brian Eno.
I knew who the Who were, as well as Led Zeppelin, the Stones and the plethora of New Wave & Punk bands (B-52's, Elvis Costello, Talking
Heads, the Police, the Human League, etc) that dotted the Club landscape & drove my frenetic, female pursuing college lifestyle.
And then I happened upon that magical Hypnos link purchasing A Produce's Smile on the Void.
Getting a small cardboard parcel from this ambient focused Oregon label is always a thrill for me
because of what I know awaits me inside: yummy treats for my bud-plugged ears And, nearly ten years
later, one of my 'stocking stuffers" this Christmas was "Infinite in all Directions" the third studio
album by Viridian Sun, a band consisting of Hypnos founder Mike Griffin & partner in sound David
The album's seven tracks, clocking in at just around sixty-three
minutes, are a gritty, grainy collection of electronic ambience &
drone-scaped, ethereal goodness -- playing off morphed/processed bass
&electric guitar as well as percussion & voice (not that you'd recognize any of the preceding in their
final state), the listener is at once transported into a systemic sound world, leaving one looking for
said world's limitations or edges... and finding them not.
I've already earmarked 4 of the 7 tracks for upcoming mixes."
--Reviewed by G.A.B. on firstname.lastname@example.org
"Although Hypnos may not seem to appear as prolific as they used to be, its always good to see their releases. M. Griffin, responsible for the label, doesn't set
out to innovate the world of music, but has carved out a niche of his own, which he likes to explore, either through his own music or that of others. Together
with David Tollefson he plays music as Viridian Sun. They both take credit for playing guitars, bass, percussion, looping, procession and Griffin also for voice.
Not that I detected many voice on here, but no doubt one could say that for guitar, save for some obvious point here and there. Everything they play is
transformed into lengthy washes of ambient sound. Like the title suggests about the universe, it can also be said of the music. It expands in all directions,
moving slowly, elegantly forward - or backward, or downward, side ways, up, down - and perhaps all of it in the same time. Time? Another relative thing -
although I am not educated to say such things that deal with nature, or in any philosophical ways. Seven tracks, clearly apart, perhaps that's the extent of these
things that make them time based. According to the cover, this was all recorded live in the studio, which made me think that these boys should be on the road
and play all night concerts, endlessly improvising and exploring the depths of the synthesized ambient music. Warm music in cold days."
--Reviewed by Frans DeWaard for Vital Ezine
"Infinite In All Directions is another fantastic cosmic space trip into the dark and unexplored regions--true "space music" in every sense of the phrase.
Without synths this time, the sound is much more dense than the duo's debut Solar Noise (still one of the best Hypnos releases ever), but no less atmospheric.
You gotta love guitars (which I do) and all the magical new sounds that can be coaxed out of them with delays and other processing goodies, to appreciate this music.
I imagine this release is what may have resulted had Slowdive dropped the girl and the drummer, and decided not to make pop music anymore, but rather sit around
their own bedrooms and make trippy soundscapes for their own personal enjoyment. There is that intimate vibe present on this recording. Music not for the casual listen, but immersive music that demands your full attention to appreciate every nuance of the sounscapes. One of the very best of 2009, and worth the 10-year wait."
--Reviewed on the Hypnos Forum by Drone On
"Guitars Are Cool
I am listening to the new Viridian Sun cd, "Infinite In All Directions", and I now think guitars in ambient music are cool!
If a listener expects country twangs or shredding solos or similar sounds, these may not always be found on the cd, but what you can find are deep, meditative, immersive waves of sound that shimmer, pulse, and move about. I suppose some comparisons might be drawn-- the duo floats synchronously like Roach and Obmana, but it is more mobile and hopeful music than the aformentioned duo often made. An occasional guitar note sounds a little like the famous "singing" guitar of Robert Rich, but not enough to be an imitation. Sometimes I feel a little like I am listening to an early Zoviet France composition, but it's nice because the sound is better. And I like Zoviet France.
Another positive to the album is that the tracks are quite varied, both in mood and composition. So you are not just buying into a redundant trip of some kind. Rather, there's lots to hear. You are going to want to listen.
Loops are used, and in a very active way. They shift, grow and move around. They are not just loops of stone, they are loops of cloth or light, flexible and intriguing.
I would say that some of the tracks have a slightly industrial vibe. For me that is a plus. But if you want just New Age-y effluvia, some tracks might seem too deep or mysterious. Personally, I prefer industrial to New Age, but that's just me. A comparison that somes to mind is with Rapoon's excellent "Fires Of The Borderlands". Melodic, inspired, with lots of movement, but also a little dark and edgey.
I would say that "Infinite In All Directions" is a really cool album and definitely worth picking up. I recommend it highly."
--Reviewed by ambient recording artist Mystified, on the Hypnos Forum