Over the course of the 2010s, Vinyl Williams made some of the most quietly adventurous music around, mixing soft focus psychedelia with trippy prog, ambient synth pop, and somnambulant shoegaze in a fashion both soothing and inspiring. His 2018 album Opal was tricky to record -- Williams laid down guitar tracks on a handheld cassette recorder, synths and other instruments on an old VHS camcorder -- and mix -- he did mixes on the camcorder and digitally, then blended them together -- but the result is easy listening in the best sense of the world. The synths are dense and light, the guitars have wide-screen depth, the rhythm section burbles like a hidden stream and Williams' wide-eyed vocals perch above the wobbly, homemade arrangements like a mountaintop mystic. It all comes together with an enveloping warmth and feels like just the kind of music it's good to spin at the end of a long, busy day. The melodies are pure cotton candy and they flow easily from one song to the next; sometimes with a little more urgency, like on the quick stepping "Aphelion," but mostly with a gentleness that is quite inviting. He seems to have learned a bit of a lesson after the slight stumble of 2016's Brunei, an album that sank a little too deeply into the couch cushions. It's good to have hooks in the songs, even if they are chilled out to the point of sleep. Otherwise, it's far too easy for them to slip away unnoticed and never make an impression. There are plenty of chances for this record to get lodged deep in listener's brain. Tracks like the arty, very German "Nether Congrenes" have soft textures but a fair amount of rhythmic bite and squirrelly guitars; "Spirit of Now" has an expansive sound and a beaming chorus, and "Millenial Ballroom" is oscillating sunshine pop that is a fine tribute to the work of Curt Boettcher. The almost giddy pop of "None with Other" has more energy in its three minutes than Brunei had over the course of its entire running time. It's a nice turnaround for Williams, showing that he's not only a dozy dreamer, but still knows how to cook up songs that have some staying power and he's delivered the most compelling album of his career yet.
|Label:||Requiem Pour Twister|