11 July 2015

Good Willsmith - "Snake Person Generation"

Good Willsmith is an improved-based drone/ambient/noise trio from Chicago, featuring TALsounds' Natalie Chami and the founders of the Chicago label Hausu Mountain, Max Allison and Doug Kaplan. I really fell in love with this band last year after they released their [technical] debut record The Honeymoon Workbook on the Mexican label Umor Rex, and got distributed by experimental music giants Thrill Jockey. And if you looked at my end of the year list for 2014, you know that that album was pretty high up on the list. I really loved that record, and the band's aesthetic. I loved how they seemed to be a no-nonsense sort of band; recording albums in one take with no overdubs, which gives it a real sense of urgency and immediacy not often felt in ambient music. You really feel like you're listening in on something that has been meticulously crafted and multi-tracked tens or hundred of times, not being played live. The density of the instrumentation was incredible; you could definitely feel each member contributing tons of different sounds and each one worked to further the sonic massiveness (is that a word? absolutely). What comes out are very emotive, dense, longform soundscapes that

Now, while the band has released only one full album, they've also released multiple tapes of material, and this is their latest, Snake Person Generation. It's definitely the most mixed bag release from Good Willsmith; it features one 17 minute cut from the pre-Honeymoon Workbook days, and 4 separate, shorter tracks. While I do wish the tape was in the style of GWS's previous efforts (all in one take) and wish it was bit more consistent, I still do find enjoyment in it. I really love the first track "Real Wet Feet Get Real Wet". It's a long and full drone that features some very low end synths, some great vocals Chami, and a massive layer of samples from children's records that really cut through the bass. It feels like a shortened, less-dense version of something from The Honeymoon Workbook, which I don't mind at all. The next 3 tracks sees Good Willsmith working on a more noise oriented sound. My favorite take on this approach is definitely "5MEO-FBI", which feels like some sort of weird club on acid. As someone who doesn't take drugs, this song is what I'd imagine music to sound like after going to a nightclub and taking a hallucinogen. I mean that in a good way. The tracks "Letter Of Snake" and "22 Dogs All Tuckered Out After A Walk" aren't my favorite GWS songs, but I do enjoy what they have to offer. Particularly "22 Dogs..", which shows how out there the band's use of samples can get. It's also is the first time I've ever heard the infamous Korg Miku pedal used on a song, and also the first time I've heard it used in an actually creative light. I'm not sure if I was supposed to notice it or not, but I did. The album ends with my favorite of all these shorter tracks, "High Level Vintage Magic". It mixes the density of the last three tracks, but combines it with the more emotive synth sounds of the first track and their other tapes. It's the sound that made me fall in love with the group in the first place, but strangely wasn't featured very much on this tape. I do appreciate though that the band tried to take their sound in different directions on this tape. It's not perfect, but I feel like it's all a good service for fans while we wait for their sophomore album.

If you're just hearing about them for the first time, I'd say listen to The Honeymoon Workbook, then their other tapes, than come back and listen to this. If you find that you like the band, this is a pretty good fan service. If you'd like a new improv ambient/drone/noise group to check out, give this and Good Willsmith's other releases a listen. They're definitely one of the most interesting and unique bands out there right now, and this is a decent addition to their discography. Enjoy!

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