The versatile musician Will Samson reached new highs with his freshly released record ‘Paralanguage’; both literally and figuratively. In last week’s review we already gave you a little backdrop to the making off of the record. Samson, who has dabbled in everything from folk to electronica, is on his way to finding peace. Overshadowed by the passing of his father, the record was written under the influence of a desperate try to escape the grief.
Stretching his trademark ambient and meditative style to the utter, almost hypnotic or transcendent degree, Will Samson wrote under the influence of his first experiments with psilocybin. The outcome is a moving and hauntingly beautiful journey to finding hope after losing a loved one. Don’t worry, no drugs needed to wrap your mind around the artist’s compositions, their vivid cinematic soundscapes transport you to other places on their own. To find out what other – musical – influences flowed into this epos of a record, we asked the musician to share some songs that especially moved him during the writing process.
What’s moving Will Samson
Brumes is the project of Seattle based artist, Desiree Rousseau.
Desi and I were partners for a couple of years and shared a home together, during the making of Paralanguage. So her own music was inevitably going to influence mine. She even sings backing vocals on the chorus of Triplet.
I first discovered Brumes a few years prior to us meeting, after Peter Broderick wrote about Soundings In Fathoms on his website (an album that he had produced and performed on). I remember thinking that she had one of the most beautiful voices I’ve ever heard – and believe that even more so now. The music is raw, vulnerable and haunting. I wish the entire world knew about her two albums – they’re pieces of magic and absolutely deserve to be heard.
There is an old song called Oh Zia that melts me every time. It consists only of harp, synth and voice, but there’s just something about it that is so hypnotising. I must have listened to it a hundred times by now.
Mike is a sweet Canadian friend, who I met way back in 2011, after playing a show together in Germany. Since then he contributed voice and pedal steel guitar to my previous two albums (Ground Luminosity & Welcome Oxygen), and also provides backing vocals on the track The Smallest Sliver.
Michael Feuerstack writes simple, sincere, catchy folk songs and has a gloriously rich baritone voice.
There’s a song of his called Love Is All Around that has been on pretty constant rotation since it was released last Summer. It’s just a wonderfully sweet song. The world needs more of them.
Tom’s music has been a big inspiration ever since a friend introduced me to it sometime back in 2012. We both have a deep love for the way in which tape machines can manipulate sound and have ended up collaborating a number of times over the years.
Alongside his ambient work, Tom writes very melodic, folk-influenced songs which are always produced in a wonderfully lo-fi way, thanks to his tape tricks. The main thing that has always struck me about his music is the vocal harmonies. He has a fantastic voice, with a great range, but his use of harmony is extra special. Every time I hear his music I am shocked that he is not so much more well known!
Although I have learned a lot about singing in harmony from Beatrijs De Klerck (my violinist) I have often had the Benoit Pioulard records in the back of my mind as a reference.
For those who aren’t familiar with his music, check out the track Margin.
Although Paralanguage was largely completed by the time we toured together, the influence of S. Carey still made it’s way into the record. Having Ben Lester and Jeremy Boettcher (from the band) adding pedal steel and double bass onto the album is an obvious factor in that – but I have also been listening to the music since 2010’s All We Grow. That album in particular is sparse and fragile but in a really powerful way. Although the latest album, Hundred Acres, is my favourite of theirs and shows such a growth in both songwriting and production – that first album has always had a lasting impact. Whilst Sean (S. Carey) is most well known as a member of Bon Iver, his own music really deserves to appreciated as it’s own separate entity.
More I See is undoubtedly one of my favourite songs of the last year.
Do Make Say Think
There’s no way I could write about a list of inspirations without including Do Make Say Think.
Although they are an instrumental band, they have always been one of the biggest and most consistent influences. There’s an ease and looseness to their music, even in the songs that are loud and powerful, that I haven’t found anywhere else in quite the same way. They have a very particular guitar sound, partly due to the fact that they’re often using hollow body electrics, but more specifically their slightly dissonant noodling chords. My style of playing guitar and writing chord progressions is due in huge part to this.
The loud distorted guitars at the end of The Smallest Sliver are something of an homage to them.
One of my favourite pieces of music ever is Anything For Now from their album & Yet & Yet.
Message To Bears
Jerome Alexander (Message To Bears) is a friend and frequent collaborator who makes folk influenced electronic music. We have made music together various times over the years and he contributed some of the glitchy electronic sounds you hear on ‘Triplet‘.
I’ve always been a big fan of his beats / programming and was listening to his album Carved From Tides quite a bit over the last year. I’ve recently been observing some of his little tricks to make better glitchy percussive sounds, but it still largely remains a mystery to me – particularly when you have an extremely outdated version of Cubase, as I do.
We have just finished a short album together, which will be out at some point in the new year.
Have a listen to his song Hold On.
Will Samson‘s Paralanguage is out now via Wichita Recordings and he’s also heading for a small solo tour in early 2020.