Violet Masks aka Michael Dominic is a solo music project based in Long Island, New York. The artist apparently released over forty albums since the early 2000’s. I spent time with one of them called Barbarity Offering.
This album is almost the complete opposite of pop music. It’s dark, really dark, and deals with people in barbaric situations like drug addiction and murder. The music is on the fringe and bares comparison to artists like Pharmakon and Prurient at least in theme. That being said there are some catchy melodies and maybe even some rare bright spots. It's also worth mentioning the album is absurdly long. The last track alone is over thirty minutes.
“DeleteDaylight” is the opener. The vocals are really catchy and sound barely above a whisper. I loved the groove and how subdued the song felt. Dissonant sounds come and go but the song remains infectious. Things become more experimental with “Soothing Pain” which is more aligned with an artist like Autechre and Aphex Twin which contains hard hitting futuristic electronic beats that feel alien and cosmic. The song was legitimately freaking me out and I would say I honestly got scared.
“The Discovered Body” is a lot more ambient and similar to a Godspeed You! Black Emperor sound collage that mixes fields recordings with swells and drones. Rain is the constant on “Her Killer” where elements come and go as they please in an organic way. “Forgiveness Lashing” was the perhaps the hardest listen. It feels metallic and unforgivingly evil at times. The lone acoustic guitar and singing which sounds like someone’s last breath on “They Died For Nothing” is ethereal, warm and even comforting.
“Beat The Fuck Out Of Me” is another scary soundscape. It’s hypnotic and mixes disparate elements like crackling white noise and piano. Time and space bends on “Useless Psychic Friends” and “Tina.” Last up is “Once The Needle Goes In, It Never Comes Out” which is a little over thirty-six minutes long and is a similar realm to an artist like Tim Hecker. It might be the most beautiful song and the most terrifying. I don’t think words do it justice.
Barbarity Offering is on the fringe of the fringe. It’s everything most people don’t think music can be. There is some brilliance in this music but I would warn you to advance forward with one foot at a time.
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