Following solo releases by both members (synthesist & Hypnos founder Mike Griffin, and guitar experimentalist David Tollefson), sonic adventurers Viridian Sun follow up their daring, acclaimed debut, SOLAR NOISE. PERIHELION goes in a slightly new sonic direction, but retains the intuitive, improvisational approach. The focus remains on creating highly visual and evocative soundscapes, an ever-evolving construction of loops and drifting background textures, both hypnotic and beautiful.
Track listing, including mp3 sample clips:
Epihelion mp3 clip
Axionsunburst mp3 clip
Elixir Sonic mp3 clip
Pelior is V mp3 clip
Voidvertigo mp3 clip
In Peril (Visium) mp3 clip
Spinning Timeworks mp3 clip
Ion Or mp3 clip
Perihelion mp3 clip
"...my fave release so far from Hypnos. Just excellent."
--John C. Smith, freelance reviewer
"Definitely the best thing on Hypnos yet."
--Robert Rich, recording artist
"If you are subject to vertigo, grab onto something before listening."
--Wind and Wire magazine
"....please! Do yourself a favor and let Perihelion lead you to truly unknowable soundworlds. Viridian Sun offers listeners direct transportation to exotic new dimensions. I'm launching an 8.5 (out of 10) rating for these innovative spacebound explorers."
--The AmbiEntrance web-zine
"...my fave release so far from Hypnos. Just excellent."
--John C. Smith /
"Top 3 Releases of 1999."
--Eric Prindle, Editor, Ujamaa's Ambient Experience
"First of all, the cover is as usual striking and unique, with the
'trademark' look of Hypnos. I'm really really enjoying this one.
The vision has expanded and the brightness introduced, from the low and
subterranean droning structures, you both have realized another brilliant
collection of eerie and trance-inducing atmospheres. Perihelion
is a strong and very cohensive album which cuts through, blends and
corresponds with the perception of the listener. Equally strange,
surreal and dense [as the debut Solar Noise] but it's this album
which sets the unified harmony in focus and states with sound what the
Hypnos label actually stands for. Exceptional and fascinating."
"This is an excursion into very dark ambient territory, an amelodic, surreal, incorporeal
world. Viridian Sun is synthesist and Hypnos label owner M. Griffin and guitarist David
Tollefson, and both combine their indescribable sounds into a mysterious and wonderful
concoction that not only draws its influence from modern pioneers such as Vidna Obmana
and Jeff Greinke, but hearkens back to the analog pioneers of Ohr Tangerine Dream and
Conrad Schinitzler. "Epihelion" is a 12 minute opener that reminds me of some of
Lightwave's deeper moments, a sonic painting whose every sound is both familiar and
strange, it's rich with subtlety and an instant classic. The middle seven tracks are
shorter pieces than their bookends, and each one is vibrantly different and headily
spacious. "Elixir Sonic" is low-toned and growling, with similarities to Loren Nerell's
more ambient work. "Voidvertigo" is out in deep space, bubbling and strange cosmic sounds
permeate the vacuum. At 4'39, it's over much too fast. "Ion Or" is perhaps the CD's most
eerie moment, portraying quantum randomness with atonal synth and cosmic guitar sounds.
The 15 minute title track finishes off the set, and is perhaps the CD's most challenging
piece, combining Schnitzler-like experimentation with hints of Jon Hassell and Ariel
Kalma, an insistent synth cycle giving way to bizarre and sentient atmosphere. This is
sure to delight those into the more challenging side of ambient music."
--Mike McLatchey, Expose Magazine
"Mike Griffin and David Tollefson each have credible solo careers yet first
came to our attention as the duo Viridian Sun. The word 'perihelion' means
the point of an orbit closest to the sun. Perihelion, the new Viridian Sun
CD, transports the listener to the center of some unexplored system to
witness this moody soundworld making its closest approach."
Star's End Radio, WXPN, Philadelphia
"Perihelion is the long-awaited follow-up to Viridian Sun's
excellent debut, Solar Noise. On this album, the Portland duo
moves into a more experimental realm, leaning more towards the
weird and abstract than the smooth and atmospheric.
Two long-form pieces, "Epihelion" and "Perihelion,"
bookmark seven shorter tracks that explore a wide variety of
sounds. The interplay between M Griffin's synthesizers and David
Tollefson's treated electric guitars gives this music the unique
Viridian Sun feel while allowing for many different approaches.
Spacy harmonics, bell-like tones and looping guitar phrases and
percussion combine to evoke an altered state of listening.
Like most experiments, Perihelion is not as immediately pleasing to the ear as its
predecessor. The strange, trippy sounds take a while to get used to. The closing title track
probably does the best job of integrating more subtle techniques into the Viridian Sun stew.
Perihelion demonstrates Viridian Sun's willingness to explore new territories in sonic
creation, obviously buoyed by each member's solo work as well as the live performances they have
been giving. This unique combo will undoubtedly continue to please and surprise."
--Ujamaa's Ambient Experience
"With their second full-length release, the masters of Pacific Northwestern
dark ambient have surpassed the artistic excellence of their debut, Solar
Noise. From the very first notes they succeed in creating an aura of
unease and vague threat, of droning machinery hidden in unfathomable forest
landscapes and of sounds from outer space hovering all too closely to the
surface of the planet. The sound palette is perhaps not broad but it has
great depth and the abiding strength of this duo is their patience in
allowing each individual composition to develop apace, resisting any
impulse to hasten the process with sensational effects or dissonant patches
of noise. One of the finest dark ambient albums of the year thus far."
Stephen Fruitman (Umea, Sweden) -- Ambient Mailing List
":The ambient topography of the universe:
Perihelion is the second release by Viridian Sun (the first being 1997ís
Solar Noise), whose members, M. Griffin and David Tollefson, have also
released solo ventures that explored an array of ambient possibilities
(Sudden Dark and New Eyes On The Universe, respectively);
M. Griffin is
also the head of the excellent ambient label, Hypnos, specializing in
cosmic sonicscapes with substance. Viridian Sun personify a kind of
soothing, alien ambience, hospitable, without fear, no deceptions to be
plied as the aliens may be strange, but that does not make them our
enemy...The improvisational crux of this synths and guitar based music
always seems to have a purpose, looped sounds emerging from within the
folds of the fabric of the universe, swept back into layers in constant
The escalator ride that is "Epihelion" ascends past a Milky Way
spray, finally circling back and setting camp on a Martian shore, the
residual sentience of life long vanquished somehow captured (channeled?) by
our explorers. "Elixir Sonic" incorporates the machinery pulse at the
heart of a planet that may or may not be organically induced (is this a
planet of natural creation or manufactured meditations? And, if the latter,
by whom?), reverberating with the trace memory howls of unknown beasts
that once resided there. "Pelior Is V," through a collage of echoey,
muffled voices and indecipherable sounds, would make the perfect soundtrack
to a remake of Forbidden Planet, somehow linking the sonic textures of the
original with Viridian Sunís own take on that forbidden terrain. The title
track leads us to a place known as Beyond, and an even darker, vacant
realm, where even aliens fear to tread. A wonderfully adventurous
excursion to the outer limits of ambient music."
--John C. Smith /
"One of the more prolific darkscape experimental neo-ambient efforts witnesses
Mike Griffin and labelmate/friend David Tollefson entering a soundspace of a
future dimension in their journeyman guise Viridian Sun. The end result,
recorded live in the studio, was Perihelion, a curious mission involving more
defining electronics than expected on a Hypnos release. The music itself is
intensely stimulating, as Griffin and Tollefson navigate extraterrestrial
terrain like voyagers on their first mission.
The obscure sequences are very foreign in nature, guided forth primarily by many
shapeshifting terrestrial echoing arrangements as experienced on "Pelior is V"
and "In Peril (Visium)." Viridian Sun, drifting back and forth among ambient
and alient soundscapes, reveal their passion for intimate eccentrics, initiating
their elaborate diversions through spiraling, twisting movements that are
sensory enhancing and awe-inspiring.
Perihelion is a rich, fulfilling look in a structured futuristic experimentalism.
The timely melancholic and eerie style of beatless rhythms incorporated among the
ambient synthscapes offers an intrinsic view into a very "developing"
environment. Griffin and Tollefson's multi-dimensional has allowed them to
navigate virtual planes of sound and theory uniting expert musicianship from
within a studio environment. Maybe someday Viridian Sun will perform this
experience live in an outdoor setting amongst pine trees, around fall under the
cover of midnight, when the earth is at its most vulnerable, susceptible point
to understanding and visualizing an extraterrestrial experience created via music."
--DIGITAL ARTIFACT magazine
"From 4 to 12 minutes long, this is an album from M. Griffin on synths and
David Tollefson on treated guitars, and this music is of the darker variety,
one where all sorts of textures and layers are explored with fascinating and
totally addictive results, as a wide range of sombre, full-sounding space
music compositions come flowing and drifting from the speakers, all rather
eerie overall, with the misical layers doing the drifting bit but there are
lots of other things happening in the mix, or at least you think there are,
as you hear chanting, hissing (or was that the wind outside) -- and are those
echoed voices -- no, just a different layer somewhere at the heart of the
huge, flowing electronic sounds that emerge from the darkness -- that place
where you rarely like to go, but when you do.... well, this is the
experience that results. The more you listen, the more you understand and
the less frightened you become. It's an addictive ride."
--CD Services newsletter (Scotland)
"Hypnos head, Mike Griffin and ambient guitarist
David Tollefson are Viridian Sun;
their newest release, the spacey and abstract Perihelion
journeys even further into unexplored galaxies than the duo's first CD,
Solar Noise. While those pieces are deliciously
intergalactic earfuls, they seem somewhat static compared to these more
involved, perhaps noisier, excursions.
If you're going to be lost in space though, this is the place to do it.
epihelion wormholes through everchanging sound sectors...
a thundery/splashy expanse, echoing space ripples, fuzzy electrodrifts,
resonant drones and beyond. A radiant double-helix of electric sound leads
to axionsunburst, where everything smooths into a looping,
blurry drone accented with faint musical tones, all of which fade to a
state nothingness; which becomes elixer sonic. An echoey,
pounding rhythm mellows into a spacey shimmer where discordant notes swell
and aggressive slashes of sound occasionally interject upon the steady
background thrum. An active atmosphere of surrealistic futurism.
Fluttery rippling effects mark the birth of pelior is v
(4:00). Tollefson's guitar strings produce warbles which traverse Griffin's
free-floating synth waves. Faint watery clatters decorate the track's depths
and growing electronic blares rise to the forefront. Swarming cyclical throbs
produce a mildly abrasive case of voidvertigo, along with
additional swelling waves of irradiated energy. A rocket-like roar seems to
propel in peril (visium) into a lazy orbit around a softly
swelling orb of sonic sheets and pulses. Brassy rays waver and refract in a
curtain of glistening particles. Other visitors include an array of
extraterrestrial noise patterns, including hums, drones, warbles, glimmers,
phases and distant rumbles.
Lighter zones await with spinning timeworks, where soft
flows of musical energy meld together, joined by a general electric
weightlessness. Luxurious drones and extended strands of feedback swirl
around space-orchestra waves.
Musical mutations seem to be locked inside
ion or; amidst a bed of shifting celestial twilight,
distant tones seem to attempt escape from some unseen barrier, resulting
in a minor chaos within. A quiet approach to perihelion
(15:23) becomes noisier as it progresses. As if journeying into a vast,
biomechanical lifeform, a hollow mechanical pulse grows and recedes, amongst
starry sheets and mysterious thumps and squeaks. Electro-animalistic wails
pierce a growing wall of reverberating sonic dissonance.
If your idea of "space music" is as earthly as the soundtrack to
Star Wars or 2001... please!
Do yourself a favor and let Perihelion lead you
to truly unknowable soundworlds. This is space music, not that
ordinary orchestra pit action; Viridian Sun offers
listeners direct transportation to exotic new dimensions. I'm launching
an 8.5 for these innovative spacebound explorers."
--David Opdyke /
"Viridian Sun have also covered new ground
with their latest album Perihelion.
This work is entirely improvised
and very intense in parts.
Moving away from the long static pieces
of the 1997 debut Solar Noise,
Perihelion has a very dynamic and
pulsating sound in general.
This is dark ambient of a different kind.
The one that asks for your involvement
and constant attention. Its strength
lies in the energy coming from within."
Inner Space Radio, Zagreb, Croatia
"The two members behind Viridian Sun are also actively as solo musicians and
label bosses of Hypnos. It may be no suprise that their second CD is like
an index of what music on Hypnos can be like. Mostly a dreamy world, full
of different colours but one that is also highly abstract and at times
disturbing. Much happens in the background - it comes better to you when
listening with headphones. I'm not familiar with their debut CD, but it
fits clearly in the Hypnos catalogue and lovers of the more daring ambient
music know what to get."
Vital E-Zine, Staalplaat, The Netherlands
"Once again we are immersed in a world of textures. The pieces seem to be
improvised but there is a sense of structure (if you can call it that)
contained within. There is a darkness created, but at the same time the
pieces contain beauty, that is to say it is a sound that reaches out for
the light, if I can be holistic for a moment. At times I feel like I'm
listening to a soundtrack to a science fiction film, the mood being alien,
dark and foreboding. This is what I term underworld music, where the feel
and tone is primal and at times on the uncomfortable side. The sound
Viridian Sun manage to convey is quite filmic in parts and I would not be
at all surprised to see these two guys composing for film one day if they
haven't already. There are a lot of drones created in the process and it
appears that the pieces are built around these drones. At times beatless,
there is nonetheless a kind of subliminal pulse at play in the background.
Some of the pieces (Elixir / Pelior is X / Void Vertigo ) are very similar
to terrains that Eno explored on recordings like White Cube, industrial
sounds processed over and over again and slowed down till they became
unrecognizable. This is music for an isolated geography and listening to it
late at night as I do I'm struck by this great sense of power within. Some
of the longer tracks remind me of Robert Rich's all night sleep concerts,
effectively lulling the listener into a deep hypnotic state where the sound
washes over you and spirals out. The other point that strikes me is that
it's difficult to distinguish between Mike Griffin's use of synthesizers
and David Tollefson's treated guitars as the sound they create merges so
effortlessly and seamlessly.This particular recording is quite a polished
performance where a lot of time and care has been taken to 'get it right'.
I believe the results speak for themselves. The last few releases on Hypnos
have seen the label move more towards what some might call space ambient,
where as before it appeared that the focus was on releasing interesting and
experimental music from relatively unknown artists. On Perihelion they have
managed to not only present a polished product, but retain this sense of
that rough edge / uneasy listening. I think this is as good as anything
Hypnos has released in the past. I know I have said it before but Hypnos
are one of a few labels which are releasing interesting music, music which
in the long run deserves a far greater listening audience."
PowerSpot Radio, NSW, Australia
"Mike Griffin and David Tollefson, a.k.a. Viridian Sun, got together in late
1996 and put together a wonderful improvised sound collage called Solar Noise.
The resulting five tracks of sublime ambience were well received by electronic
music radio stations and magazines. For those of you patiently, or not so
patiently, waiting for a follow up, Perihelion has finally arrived. This time
around, there are nine tracks, exploring even more unusual "surreal alien
soundscapes," to coin a phrase from the latest Hypnos catalog. Indeed, at times
I feel like I'm listening to the 90s version of Forbidden Planet. Griffin plays
synthesizers and Tollefson treated guitars.
Beginning with the 12-minute "Epihelion," we start our descent into other worldly
places. The music slowly washes over you, floating through alternating moments of
darkness and beauty. With "Axionsunburst," things get trippy, the music spiraling
outward in ever-increasing circles of sound. "Elixir Sonic" explores dark
caverns, perhaps peering in on a primitive alien ritual. Water drips down the
cavern walls as we proceed into the depths. "Pelior is V" continues the dark
tone, but with a more sci-fi feel, though the water is still cascading in the
background. But it isn't like any water you've heard here on Earth. Soft moaning
is heard, and there is a chill in the air.
The alien atmosphere is accomplished through an array of effects and strange
sounds, such that it is sometimes difficult to tell which part is synthesizers
and which is the treated guitar. Like all Hypnos releases, the mastering and
sound quality are excellent. The mood remains mostly eerie throughout, though
the treated guitars on "Spinning Timeworks" are beautiful in a dark way. The
15-minute title track brings things to a dark, churning, pulsating conclusion.
About halfway through this one, I'm under the covers, certain that whatever is
outside is getting closer... and closer... and CLOSER.
If you like melody and structure in your music, you won't find anything to your
liking here. On the other hand, if you like shifting, formless masses of sound,
which carry you to a complete fantasy world, you must hear Perihelion. If you
are subject to vertigo, grab on to something before listening."
Wind and Wire Magazine