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Viridian Sun - Solar Noise

Artist: Viridian Sun
Title: Solar Noise
Label: Hypnos Recordings

A rich exploration into sonic textures and nuances. Listeners often describe this sound experience in terms of the sights or emotions it inspires, rather than how it sounds. Features M. Griffin (synthesizers) and David Tollefson (treated guitars).

Track listing with MP3 sample clips:
01 Solan Solar N Sol
02 Voxuua Soexis
03 Serere
04 Nervous Eclipse
05 Radiat

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"Viridian Sun is M. Griffin (electronics) and David Tollefson (guitar). Recorded live in late 1996, this CD features 72 minutes of ambience.

Since humans are incapable of placing an ear to the sun and listening to the quantum churning that goes on within the photosphere, Viridian Sun has taken it upon itself to produce a sonic replication of such soundscapes, both internal and external.

Delicate atmospherics drift with extended tonalities, capturing the graceful swirl of super-hot particulate matter within a solar furnace. Tranquil photonic flows stream with infinite calm, undisturbed by the worries of consciousness or aggressive cosmic phenomena.

Softly minimal guitar effects accompany this ambience, lending a bubbling to the serene gaseous electronics. Fanciful guitar strumming creates a descendant aspect to the non-intrusive music, evoking the downward flow of hydrogen as the loose molecules progress toward the core for their inevitable transformation into helium.

Fusion here is envisioned with a subdued harshness, seething but not explosive. The actual moment of conversion occurs with a sudden abruptness that is restrained, not jarring the peaceful sonic imagery. Precarious guitar effects reverberate in comfortable tandem with the sinuous electronics, chittering with relaxed expression.

The solar serenade continues, examining the slowburn process of an eclipse rendered in heavenly textures tinged with a nervous anticipation. These passages convey a sense of atmospheric majesty, celebrating the intangible interaction of occluded lightwaves. Shadow adopts a quasi-liquid nature.

Other aspects explored in this music compare to the luxurious solar wind, releasing helium and other higher elements to flow outward from the furious stellar furnace, streaming through the vacuum unmindful and undisrupted by any matter in their path. These solar sounds ooze with smooth resonance, flowing into cosmic interaction with each planet's massive magnetic fields to sweep around and continue their outbound surge."
--Matt Howarth, space.com


"Viridian Sun is a relatively new duo out of Portland consisting of Mike Griffin on synthesizers and David Tollefson on looped and treated guitars. Recording Solar Noise spontaneously in the studio over a short period of time, they have turned out a surprisingly intricate and subtly beautiful work of experimental ambience.

Consisting of five long tracks, Solar Noise in general proceeds from the more active to the more subdued. In "Solan Solar N Sol," one comes across some recognizable and even acoustic-sounding guitar from Tollefson, as well as plenty more abstract looped sounds, backed up by Griffin's atmospheric synthesizer work. The last few minutes of this track burst out in a cacophony of foreboding, proto-rhythmic noise unmatched anywhere else on the album. "Voxuua Soexis" is also a bit noisy, but in a more subtle sort of way. As the album moves on, the level of depth and subtlety increases, until one reaches the blissfully excellent "Radiat," a perfect ending for this challenging album.

The sounds produced by the interaction of Griffin's ambient synthesizers and Tollefson's experimental guitar work can be difficult, but they are always intriguing. The music of Viridian Sun is unlike anything else coming out of the ambient well these days, and they will hopefully continue to challenge and enlighten their listeners for a long time to come."

(Rated ***** out of 5 stars, highest rating)
--Eric Prindle Ujamaa's Ambient Experience


"Timeless space music, by a Portland, Oregon duo who know how it's done. The first long track, "Solar Solar N Sol," brings to mind Steve Roach initially, but the improvisational nature of the collaboration gives Viridian Sun's music a more restless structure overall. The absence of electronic percussion and rote sequencer patterns is also a plus, as it makes the music interactive and unpredictable. Mike Griffin supplies the spacious electronic drones, while David Tollefson's guitar not only adds drone counterpoint, but also a variety of rhythmic figures and textures. Subsequent tracks maintain the quality of the first, but move in slightly different directions. "Voxuua Soexis" is darker and more agitated--almost the stuff of nightmare. "Nervous Eclipse," at over 20 minutes, is almost glacially slow, and features layered metallic timbres and a cavernous echo. It is the longest and most abstract of the cuts, and the most purely atmospheric. The CD closes with "Radiat," a serene, drifting piece which ends the program on a thoughtful, but mellow note."
--OPTION Magazine, Bill Tilland


"Top 25 of 1997."
--Eric Mystic, Mystic Music, KKUP, Cupertino, California


"Top 50 of 1997."
--Chuck VanZyl, Star's End Radio, WXPN, Philadelphia


"Seventy-one minutes (5 tracks) of richly textured multi-synth cosmic EM together with treated electric guitars, deep, rumbling synth bass, occasional tinkling background percussion, all quite varied in what is a spacy, drifting setting, from loud and booming cosmic textures to sombre reflective soundscapes -- a fine example of cosmic space music."
--CD Services newsletter (Scotland)


"Atmospheric gasps and galactic intrigue further inform Viridian Sun's Solar Noise. Like NY's Everything Must Go, the duo of Mike Griffin (electronics) and David Tollefson (guitars), are working within the parameters of what is unceremoniously called ‘space music’ but, rather than being a redolent series of bass sequencers and whispery effects, Viridian Sun's undeniably powerful aura is cast by a scintillating alteration of synthetic/organic tones and pitches, guitar strings that are cannily manipulated, and a plethora of compellingly esoteric sounds. The opening "Solan Solar n Sol" could have been Kubrick's ode to the monolith from 2001, had the director sought out electronics instead of regal classicism, as Viridian Sun take the listener on a journey through differing sonic mazes, loops, peaks and valleys. And again, like their fellow Hypnos artists, they exhibit a gift for daunting imagery and wordplay: titles like "Radiat" and "Voxuua Soexis" unravel as provocatively as the soundsmiths who invented their sonic counterparts. In a word: gripping."
--Darren Bergstein / i/e Magazine


"Detailed structure of beatless ambience. The finest monochromatic piece to emerge since Namlook/Inoue's "2350 Broadway" series. Highly recommended."
--Rioux's Records catalog listing


"Seventy-one minutes of cosmic synth music -- a good example of innovative space soundscapes." --Midas Synth Catalogue listing


"A dark ambient album with immediate appeal to fans of Lightwave, Meridien Dream, and the recent works of Robert Rich.... While the keyboard textures, with dark swirly synths, sample loops and sequences and a wide variety of instrument tones and noises set the scene, it is the processed guitar, abstract plucking sounds and atonal melodies that provide the variety and continual changes. Deep space and foreboding passages are linked with an excellent flow, and we expect more fine releases from this Portland, Oregon- based label."
--Backroads Music catalog listing


"SOLAR NOISE is a fantastic voyage into synaptic space, unfolding over long, beatless vocal meditations, with a brooding moodiness that recalls the drone work of Lustmord, Robert Rich, and Steve Roach."
--John Graham, The Rocket


"Described by this Portland duo as "abstract improvisation," the dark ambient of Viridian Sun haunts the subtler territories of deep-space music, more likely to appear in a Kubrick film than The Wall. Alluring textures lend this full-length, five-track disc its pleasing sculptural quality.
--Tiffany Lee Brown, Anodyne


"Stylistically the obvious comparison is to Lustmord, but it definitely has a unique character of its own partly due to the difference in sound sources. The last track in particular reminded me a little of the Alan Lamb: Primal Image release. The only way I can attribute this is because the heavily processed guitar sounds appear to have a similar quality to contact miked telephone wires (a la Primal Image).

Overall, Lustmord and Viridian Sun both have an organic sound to them, but while Lustmord's last album has a timbral quality derived from the digital domain, some of Viridian Sun's timbres come from the acoustic domain. Overall, I think Solar Noise ranks up there with the better 'pure ambient' releases. A really nice, eerie dark sound. Highly recommended."
--Jeremy Wells, Ambient Music mailing list


"If you like your ambience on the dark and eerie side, don't go past Solar Noise by Viridian Sun. This is the second release on this new label who recently released the excellent Saul Stokes cd Washed In Mercury.The obvious point of comparisons are going to be Lustmord and Robert Rich, but don't let this put you off. This time we are taken on a journey into what some would consider the underworld, maybe even the outer world. Viridian Sun is Mike Griffin ( who I assume runs the label ) doing electronics and David Tollefson playing guitars. Lots of processed sounds here and rich organic textures. Certainly not new age by any means. I don't know much about either of these two, but they compose interesting soundscapes and that's a good starting point in my book.

Cosmic and ethereal, dark and atmospheric, at times even downright evil, listening to Solar Noise is like drifting through the astral planes on a wave of cosmic noise and pulses. Shifting patterns of sound constantly evolve lifting the listener to new heights and at times downright lows. Track 1 has a passage towards the end that lulls you into a false sense of security and then suddenly turns around and assaults you and takes you into some weird and strange sonic spaces, almost industrial sonics. I saw Kraftwerk do the same things many years ago with their Computer World Tour, again this lulling, this false sense of security and then whammo. It didn't help having a head full of LSD at the time, but later we howled with laughter. At times it reminded me of some of the ideas that Steve Roach explored a few years back via At the Threshhold of Silence, from World's Edge. My favorite track on this cd is Nervous Eclipse which runs for about twenty minutes. This allows the two to build up layers of sound and develop the piece. Radiat which is the closing piece is pure ambience and closes the cd on a very quiet note. Lovely stuff. There is great depth and dimensionalism at play here. Listen through head phones for a more intense effect. My house is empty at the moment except for the sound system and it all sounds awesome. Definitely a label to keep an eye and ear out for. I think this release would appeal to quite a lot of people. Check it out if you can.
--Hans Stoeve, host of Powerspot on 2RES, FM 89.7, NSW Australia


"Viridian Sun represents another angle of electronic music, exploring brooding ambient on its debut, Solar Noise.

While many works in this genre lapse into a trance-inducing, nearly New Age rut, this Portland duo injects some energy into its soundscapes. The echoing electronic riffs share space with effects-driven guitar figures on alternatingly nightmarish and soothing tracks with titles like "Voxuua Soexis" and "Serere."
--Richard Martin, Willamette Week "Timbre" columnist


"Following in the footsteps of such drone masterminds as Brian Lustmord or Steve Roach, Viridian Sun try a new twist on the now-classic ambient genre. Instead of utilizing found sounds as the aforementioned artists frequently do, Viridian Sun has instead chose to manufacture all of their own sounds themselves.

The most amazing thing is that the liner notes state that a guitar was used to create some of the elements, although you would never have known. The subtle textures that flow and undulate through these compositions appear to be entirely composed of digital and analogue synthesizers and not the heretical guitar. Regardless, the permeating sub-bass and smooth waveforms that appear throughout this album are nothing short of stunning.

This Portland duo has succeeded in coaxing an inordinate degree of vibrance from their instruments and appear to have poured their souls into their compositions. I will definitely look forward to being exposed to more material by Viridian Sun as soon as it becomes available."
--Chris Christian, Sonic-Boom Magazine