CD Reviews Haniwa - Violent Sun

Published on 22nd October 2017

Haniwa – Violent Sun


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I came across this Oklahoma City band on CD Baby.com, which I find better than iTunes or most other places to sample new talented and unique sounding bands. I have discovered several bands this way, the site being continuously updated with a wealth of good new music.

When I first heard Brute, the opening track from Violent Sun, I was struck by the undeniable quality of Haniwa’s vocal driven soundscape. This track, and most of the album, immediately took me back to British rockers Pure Reason Revolution’s The Dark Third, which was one of my favorite albums of 2006. Like PRR, this band knows how to perfectly blend unique guitar rhythms with excellent keyboard inspirations. The drumming is precise and full of dynamic thunder.

Violent Sun is Haniwa’s third album, the band describing the mythos surrounding the title in this way:

“The Sun is violent, destructive, and ambivalent. This giant fireball gives life to our planet while being able to take it away at any moment. We are tied to it, dependent on it, and at its mercy. We need the Sun to give us life, much like we need love and passion to give our lives meaning. While there are countless positive aspects to glean from love, it opens us to one of our most venerable states. The trust we share can be broken in an instant, and the light that fuels us can go out; both world shifting events. With this project, we wanted to share both the passion and pain that love brings. The violent social dance that draws us in and pushes us apart. In this way, love can be just as violent and destructive as the Sun.”

The quintet comprises multi-instrumentalists Dylan Walling and Shirley Sanders with drummer Jake Jones, guitarist Shawn Stafford and Tyco Holloway on bass, augmented by guest M. Bailey Stephenson who adds harp and vocals to Moon. Vocals throughout come from Walling, Sanders and Holloway, the former pair also handling the production alongside Stafford with the album recorded and mixed by Caleb Gray and mastered by Kevin Lively.

Every track on this album is dynamic and well led by either female or male vocals. The lyrics are both interesting and magnetic, adding to the sensitivity, intelligence and maturity of the sound. Shirley Sanders’ vocals stand out throughout and she is the key to my enjoyment of the vocal presentation. Her “oohs” in Your Moon bring gut felt emotion and the opening of Dodecahedron gives you the opportunity to hear her voice in its fullness without as much instrumental support. It is at this point that you can truly appreciate all the subtleties and dynamics that she adds.

White Tower is full of powerful syncopation and waves of vocal synchronicity, the likes of which I have not heard since The Dark Third, which flow perfectly into Bone Flute, a song which would have fit so well on that album. Tremble & Pulse is full of soft yet direct piano with birdsong accompaniment in a refreshing and fabulous change of pace.

Absolutely is one of the sole guitar–driven songs, and with Sanders’ vocals opening it truly shines bright. As well as the above named tracks, the standouts for me include Pink & Gold and Orcas, but let’s be honest, every song is excellent and there are no throw aways…at all.

Violent Sun is full of range and dynamic sound, it will be amongst the favorite albums from 2017. The feelings and sounds from this album remain far beyond initial hearing.

TRACKLISTING
01. You Brute (3:06)
02. Feels (3:41)
03. Your Moon (4:35)
04. Pink & Gold (3:01)
05. Mecanique (4:21)
06. Dodecahedron (3:37)
07. White Tower (1:24)
08. Bone Flute (3:38)
09. Tremble & Pulse (4:05)
10. Absolutely (3:33)
11. Orcas (5:34)

Total Time – 40:35

MUSICIANS
Dylan Walling – Vocals, Piano, Synths, Guitar & Percussion
Jake Jones – Drums
Shawn Stafford – Guitar
Shirley Sanders – Vocals, Guitar, Synths, Bass & Percussion
Tyco Holloway – Bass, Vocals & Guitar
~ With:
M. Bailey Stephenson – Harp & Vocals (3)

ADDITIONAL INFO
Record Label: Independent
Country of Origin: USA
Date of Release: 18th August 2017

LINKS
Haniwa – Facebook | Bandcamp

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