Vinyl Williams: Leminiscate

Vinyl Williams tries to combine ambient electronic music, shoegaze, and pyschedelia, but ends up burying everything distinctive about his music in an omnipresent aural haze.

Vinyl Williams


Label: Salonislam / No Pain in Pop
US Release Date: 2012-11-11
UK Release Date: 2012-11-12

Vinyl Williams (neé Lionel Williams) has been putting out music via Bandcamp and elsewhere for a couple of years, but Leminiscate is his debut album. There may be good songs hidden somewhere on this record, but Williams buries his tracks in a thick haze of synth washes and guitar reverb, making it difficult to suss out much of anything in the music. There are vocals, sure, but they're usually either low in the mix or used as just another sound element. Occasionally there is an interesting guitar or bass riff, too, but Williams is quick to cover those elements up in his oppressive atmospherics.

What Vinyl Williams seems to be doing is searching for the intersection of shoegaze, ambient electronic music, and psychedelia. And it's quite possible he may have found it. But by covering up everything that makes his songs distinctive in that omnipresent aural haze, he's created a tedious listening experience in which the tracks blur together into a flat, soupy mess. The song "Higher Worlds" is one of the very few exceptions, and even it can't break completely free of the haze. The track has a driving, albeit muted, drumbeat, and is anchored by an angular, post-punk guitar riff. That riff is later joined by a slower, complementary guitar line. In the chorus, the riff slides down into a lower register. If the production wasn't so muffled, "Higher Worlds" would be an exciting song. But Williams opts to slather on the synths once he gets to the chorus, and eventually those synths mostly overwhelm the cool bits in the song's second half.

"Grassy" has a chorus in which Williams' high-pitched melody sort of crests over the buzz, and the guitar chords change nicely to support that melody. But nothing really comes of it since the rest of the song just floats along, mostly tunelessly. "Object of the Source" is essentially a three-minute rocker, but Williams can't commit to it, and despite minimal synth interference and only moderate reverb, his mixing and production still makes the song sound like it's emanating from a crappy boombox in the next room. Then there's "Open Your Mind", a track which starts off like an acoustic ballad, then gradually adds more and more layers of sound until cutting off abruptly at the two-minute mark. The final three minutes of the song's running time are completely devoted to unrelated, ambient synthesizer sounds.

"Open Your Mind"'s synth overload does serve to make the album proper's final track, "Follow in Your Dreams", sound like a bracing change of pace. For one thing, Williams sings the song title as the refrain, and it's easy for the listener to actually make out the words. There's enough forward momentum in the rhythm section and guitars to keep the song sounding upbeat. This one track is a successful psychedelic shoegaze jam, at least for its first four minutes. The final three is just directionless noise, but that's about what you expect from Williams at that point on the record. Bonus track "Harmonious Change" is notable because the production style is markedly different. The song is similar to the more tuneful bits of the main album and is clearly the same artist, but the haziness is completely absent. It's an intriguing look into what Leminiscate might have sounded like if Williams wasn't so intent on burying his music in aural fog.


In Americana music the present is female. Two-thirds of our year-end list is comprised of albums by women. Here, then, are the women (and a few men) who represented the best in Americana in 2017.

If a single moment best illustrates the current divide between Americana music and mainstream country music, it was Sturgill Simpson busking in the street outside the CMA Awards in Nashville. While Simpson played his guitar and sang in a sort of renegade-outsider protest, Garth Brooks was onstage lip-syncindg his way to Entertainer of the Year. Americana music is, of course, a sprawling range of roots genres that incorporates traditional aspects of country, blues, soul, bluegrass, etc., but often represents an amalgamation or reconstitution of those styles. But one common aspect of the music that Simpson appeared to be championing during his bit of street theater is the independence, artistic purity, and authenticity at the heart of Americana music. Clearly, that spirit is alive and well in the hundreds of releases each year that could be filed under Americana's vast umbrella.

Keep reading... Show less

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.

60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

This week on our games podcast, Nick and Eric talk about the joy and frustration of killing Nazis in Wolfenstein: The New Order.

This week, Nick and Eric talk about the joy and frustration of killing Nazis in Wolfenstein: The New Order.

Keep reading... Show less

Which is the draw, the art or the artist? Critic Rachel Corbett examines the intertwined lives of two artists of two different generations and nationalities who worked in two starkly different media.

Artist biographies written for a popular audience necessarily involve compromise. On the one hand, we are only interested in the lives of artists because we are intrigued, engaged, and moved by their work. The confrontation with a work of art is an uncanny experience. We are drawn to, enraptured and entranced by, absorbed in the contemplation of an object. Even the performative arts (music, theater, dance) have an objective quality to them. In watching a play, we are not simply watching people do things; we are attending to the play as a thing that is more than the collection of actions performed. The play seems to have an existence beyond the human endeavor that instantiates it. It is simultaneously more and less than human: more because it's superordinate to human action and less because it's a mere object, lacking the evident subjectivity we prize in the human being.

Keep reading... Show less

Gabin's Maigret lets everyone else emote, sometimes hysterically, until he vents his own anger in the final revelations.

France's most celebrated home-grown detective character is Georges Simenon's Inspector Jules Maigret, an aging Paris homicide detective who, phlegmatically and unflappably, tracks down murderers to their lairs at the center of the human heart. He's invariably icon-ified as a shadowy figure smoking an eternal pipe, less fancy than Sherlock Holmes' curvy calabash but getting the job done in its laconic, unpretentious, middle-class manner.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.