Superviolet is a new project by Steve Ciolek (The Sidekicks, Saintseneca) from Columbus, Ohio. He began writing new material after The Sidekicks were sidelined in 2020. Zac Little of Saintseneca agreed to produce the album in the form of contributing to the writing process and recording. The result is the infectious Infinite Spring LP, released on Friday by Philly’s Lame-O Records.
Little also played the theremin, backwards guitar, digital goober, and solo freak (all according to Steve’s Instagram post). And Matty Sander of The Sidekicks came in on drums and percussion. Kosoma Jensen, Steve Ciolek’s wife, played the clarinet, and Leticia Wiggins on flute. Even the cat Fry provided ‘meows and chewing.’ Ciolek mixed the album, and Glenn Davis mastered it. (Instagram)
You get the feel on this album of an older house converted into a studio, which appears to be the recording setting of this album based on photos. You can hear it, with the way the sound interacts with the wooden floors and surrounding furniture. The recording environment introduces an honesty that you find on endearing albums. You especially it when he inches away from the vocal microphone and natural room reverb bounces into the mix. (Liner notes on Bandcamp reveal it was recorded during the summers of 2020 and 2021 during the Pandemic.)
I used to get the verse then I’d figure out the hookSuperviolet – ‘Infiite Spring’
Scribble it all down into a notebook
But I’m doing it different now
Trying it out loud.
It isn’t easy to open with a full-length. I mean, it’s a real risk to dedicate the hours of recording ten song (and songs that don’t make the album). You risk burn-out, not getting the response you hope for, and weak songs sneaking onto an album just to stretch it beyond an EP. You also risk genre drift as you’re exploring sounds. But on Infinite Spring, the songs all belong and sound cohesive.
Ciolek’s vocals are generally dry, appropriately single tracked with doubled (sometimes tripled) vox to help it push through or effectively emphasize a phrase. Background vocals (Jenson, Little, and Ciolek), that are beachy at times, are panned further out with delay and slight reverb that blends them and pushes them back. There’s a touch of post-punk in the vocal style, and delivered with emotion. There are effects that kick in briefly on the vocals… slap delay, a tremolo, chorus, tape saturation, and other effects. In all, they contribute the style without stepping in the way.
The songs are deceptive in the complexity of the mix. There are far more layers than you might suspect on first listen. They blend together well, which doesn’t happen by accident. Acoustic guitars, electric guitars, synths, piano, distant vocals, bass, percussive textures, and instruments mentioned above… all come together. They understand how to bring songs down to minimal tracks, only to build or explode with stacks of layers. Each song is written well to capitalize on well thought out songs structure.
I’ve been a fan of Saintseneca for a number of years, and you can clearly hear Zac’s influence, with a mostly toned back edge of The Sidekicks. Fans of Pinegrove, Hovvdy, Jay Som, Saintseneca, and Slow Pulp will connect deeply with Superviolet.
The songs on Infinite Spring are ones you’ll want to put on your stereo or headphones, dim the lights, and take it in. The complexity of the songs never pull away from the sunset vibe. This is a really great album that doesn’t need genre tags to pin it down.
MTV breaks each track down and includes an interview with Steve. Superviolet’s Steve Ciolek Is Doing It Different Now worth your time.