This is an unusually cinematic album, that has a strong story behind it, but presents it in a way that is uniquely its own. The main creative force behind this undertaking is Shelly Blake-Plock, and his primary inspiration is an unusual and obscure Victorian short story which features a young boy living with an abusive father and step mother who longs to learn to play the violin. This tragic tale eventually ends in the boy's death in a surreal scene involving the ghost of his dead mother. While it might seem that the story is the primary focus here, it is not the main force that gets my attention. Instead, it is Shelly's editing methods and ear for unusual sound combinations that make this disc shine even when removed entirely from its story line. My copy of the cd came with an accompanying newspaper article in which Shelly explains that he works with sound like a sculptor working reductively- that is, he records all of the sounds first and then chips away at them until the underlying track emerges. The method sounds intriguing enough, and it actually produces some great results. Shelly has assembled an immense cast of players and sound artists for "The Violencestring"- an orchestra for him to conduct in reverse. There is a nice cohesion among sounds as the group goes from high energy, free-jazz freak outs to quiet and unsettling drone works. There are some softer songs strategically placed as well as some appropriate violin pieces. Amazingly, it does not come off as a hodge-podge of randomness, and even the usage of more digital sounding effects fit in nicely.
There are also some pretty straight narrations given at even intervals throughout the album. These sometimes come across a little too straightforward for me, but they seem to serve the purpose of progressing the story well enough. The idea of a concept album as cinematic as this seems a little dated, but it really is pretty fun. The packaging (which features an illustrated guide to the cast of characters, looking like something out of a Tim Burton film), helps to put things into perspective even better. Shelly has a definite vision of what this story should feel, look, and sound like. All together, it's an oddly entertaining story-album that's broken up into little chunks for easy digestion. It's kind of like a psychedelic drone, free-jazz version of The Who's "Tommy" crossed with Grimm's Fairy Tales. It's a totally unique experience. 9/10 -- Charles Franklin (19 December, 2007)