WILL SAMSON has always had a way of defining things his very own way. Melancholy has a unique meaning in his work, so does the term ambient. The latest EP, Light Shadows, seems to redefine yet another dimension, presenting new impressions of movement.
Light Shadows was already released by the end of 2013 – as a digital EP. Correctly realizing this doesn’t serve justice to its weight, Karaoke Kalk reissued an extended vinyl edition at April 25th. It completes the EP adding two reworks, adaptions by Vienna’s experimental-ambient duet Ritornell and American songwriter Benoit Pioulard.
The titel is exemplary to the inherent tradition of melancholy. Carefully, minimalist layers made of such as echoing, mellow guitars, falsetto voices, sounds and tender electronic percussions softly float into one, continuosly flickering and pulsating silently. On a slow pace everything is breathing without ever being lengthy, keeping a balance between the light and the dark, only pretending to fall down to one side at all times.
It may be due to some excursions into dance music that Light Shadows reveals new shapes of movement. The EP It grows again emerged out of the collaboration with London-based producer Tom Demac last year. It may as well be due to the experience of great loss, that forces an emotional movement without comparison, obliging one to rearrange everything inside, reconnecting all that life consists of to keep oneself from falling apart.
Of course, Light Shadows could never be named dance music. Let alone the elaborate, fully analogue production highly contrasts a laptop-affine, often rather digital genre. Nevertheless, the first two songs seem to quote different kinds of dance musik, and by quoting it creating a new kind of drive. Manifest and almost physical in sound, Rusting Giants hints at light techno beats, contrasting the floating and soft layers, embracing traces of pop melodies, creating a flickering confusion which is only strictly structured once the listener wants to hear it this way. At a closer look the extensive waves aren’t cut into pieces by mechanic rythms but illustrated by slighty unprecise beats, adding to the immense waves of growth and acceleration. Mellow guitars, distant falsetto, shivering violins and a light air of the eighties condense and fade to hymnically pausing as well as fully driven moments.
Empty Atoms rather brings the far-away comparison to disco and lounge to mind, pulsating without percussion before evolving into a lovely slow-dance-scene that brought up pictures from Twin Peaks for a second. It fades out in a rotation, stuck between harmonies opening toward space, just to cause final associative confusion with a field-recording-outro revealing noises of bagpipes and horses, bringing you back to a strange world-reality.
Sanctuary slowly builds up one small melodies, being as intense as catchy. There’s a difference in pace between cradling and dancing that it seems to balance precisely.
Opening two new perspectives to WILL SAMSON‘s work, Ritornell’s and Benoit Pioulard’s interpretations are quite opposed characters. Whilst Ritornell’s Rusting Giants seems to have carefully fragmented the song and reorganised it in a way that finally shows precise beats on pulse. This doesn’t let it seem more tidy though, as the voices and violins were cut as well, which creates different abstraction. Instead of cutting Beoit Pioulard wore away all pulse in Colliding With Oceans, creating on flowing, washed-out piece, seamless and flickering.
It’s new perspectives to music that enable to discover dozens of songs in one and the same. But what creates them? Is it moods? Visualization? Or maybe knowledge of the author’s intention? Once an artist dares to open his heart and sensation to his work it may be a mirror to a story of life. There’s a certain beauty in just sensing this story without knowing the narrative, binding own experiences to those of a stranger by attaching the music to one’s own feelings. It may nevertheless be enriching to get to know a person’s thoughts and stories that shaped the music. If you’re curious to discover those: WILL SAMSON contributed a wonderful article to nbhap.com earlier this year and reading it might be a good start. Does Light Shadows sound different afterwards?
‘Light Shadows’ is the most precise description to itself. Movement, visible through surfacing shape to its inside, yet again questioned by new perspective through reworks, makes Will Samson’s new EP worth listening over and over again and discovering it anew every time.
NBHAP Rating: 4,5/5