White Fires of Venus
Hushed vocals, finger-picked acoustic guitar, soaring e-bow, touches of vibraphone and electric piano, make Skin and Light the perfect record for late night chill-out sessions, rainy afternoons, or headphone listening–anytime. Singer/songwriter Jeff Sparks, who also records more rocking fare under the names ‘Duplex’ and ‘Sparkles in the Milk,’ momentarily lays down his electric guitar, offering up an album that, in many ways, continues where his late 90’s work with space-rockers Primitive Radio Gods left off. Songs like “Ocean View” and “On the Rise” are spiritual brethren to Primitive Radio Gods’ tracks like “Future Followers of Erika” and “Fading Out;” with nods to such artists as Nick Drake, Pink Floyd, Red House Painters, Leonard Cohen, and Elliot Smith.
The calm, oceanic vibe of the record may partially be attributed to the locale where it was created: the lovely coastal city of Santa Barbara, California. Skin and Light is one of the first releases on Corporate Nightmare Records, a Santa Barbara-based indie label co-owned by Zach Madden, who also lent his production chops, and skills as a drummer to the album. Producer extraordinaire Craig Costigan recorded several additional tracks at his S.B. studio, Garage Majal. The resulting music conjures up expansive views, warm, sensual nights, and sun-and-alcohol soaked afternoons of the sleepy central coast.
In recent years a new crop of artists have emerged for whom ‘quiet is the new loud:’ Iron and Wine, Belle and Sebastian, Jose Gonzales, and The Kings of Convenience, to name a few. The White Fires of Venus follow humbly in this tradition, and Skin and Light would fit nicely into any music collection already filled with the likes of The Blue Nile, Mazzy Star, American Music Club, or Sun Kil Moon.
“Sparks’ songs are the perfect soundtrack for a break-up, or a rainy day spent reading at home in your bathrobe.”
-Santa Barbara Independent
“…this album comes on like a lamb before it sears the soul…Ride this until the coals fade from the fire.”
-Aiding and Abetting