Adam A Williams
On Recovery






On Recovery by Welsh guitarist Adam A Williams is a two-track EP released in July 2013 on Gavin Catling’s Perth-based Twice Removed Records. It is available as a three-inch postcard release of 50 copies and in the digital form of a download version. It can be purchased and fully streamed at Bandcamp. A release which tends to ameliorate the past and is drowned in an optimistic, life-affirming warmth, On Recovery is based on a minimal amount of ingredients: one or two guitars and field recordings are everything there is. This is a proper Drone record, and this implies a larger focus on textures than melodies. While the guitar is always recognizable, there are instances where it mimics a pipe organ, but apart from this perception, filters and frequency cutters stay away from the aura. On Recovery is a circular release in that its problem is its solution and vice versa: no synthesizer is used, no underlining beat structure erected, so if a listener insists on these things, he or she won’t find happiness. However, happiness comes in another shape here. Despite the purposefully streamlined and stringent appearance of both tracks, they sound comfortable and comforting. While not being exactly euphoric or overly joyful, contentment is still all over the release, for it is about the recovery of one of Williams' dogs, and so the guitarist creates stable constructions which do only introduce the smallest of changes in tandem with hints of slow progression. They are therefore perfect for ennobling desk-related workflows. Enthralling the listening subject via humbleness: a task for On Recovery!


There it is, right at the beginning, and it won’t vanish until the first track is over: the spluttering-crackling blur of hazy vinyl pops. It is weird enough to enforce this kind of nostalgia and warmth via retrogressive layers that kill the pristine clarity and encapsulate its remainders in a shell of the poeticized past. Much has been written about it. And yet Adam A Williams decides to drape the eponymous opener On Recovery in vintage veils in-between halcyon helixes. Or are these pops raindrops on a rooftop, an omnipresent commodity in Wales? Whatever their original source, Williams gives the listener time to adjust to the intrinsic sepia-toned hue. I do not want to mention the specific duration of this process, for this technicality would diminish the organic airflow, but given the total runtime of a bit over five minutes, On Recovery already feels larger than its time-related boundaries would suggest. Williams wastes time, and he does it benignantly. Gaseous guitar glints are grafted onto the aeriform reel, drones and mellow pizzicato blebs unite. A more meticulous look at the superstructure reveals the drone base frame to be played backwards, recognizable through the archetypically plinking prongs amidst the cusps and apexes. And that is it. Call it a thermal haze or misty mirage, On Recovery is awash with amicable fractals, soft arabesques and orange-tinted light. A proper Ambient construction at its core, the designedly unexciting, slowly twirling stream freely reveals itself, the implied theme of rusticity is expanded by the means of the chirping birds at the end of the track. This is a nostalgic tune alright, but delightfully soothing, without a single undertone in minor ever admixed. No eclectic twist is dropped, the accessible structure embraces the listener and potentially leads him or her to a wrong path: this is no picayune ditty, but a well-balanced guitar-fueled anthem of contentment.


The second track is called The Odyssey, an eminently erudite exaggeration that triggers the partial knowledge listeners have about this adventurous tale of danger, excitement and freedom. The overused mentioning of the term odyssey in the world of music and consumer reports has diluted its denotatory dimensions. The reason for this short excursion unsurprisingly leads to the physiognomy of Adam A William’s second offering whose appearance is similarly incompatible with its signal term. This is no cinematic piece laden with protuberances, oceans or mountainous highs, but a delicately streamlined plateau of guitar-driven placidity. A runtime of 12+ minutes at least implies some sort of number-related magnitude. Launching with a monotonous, elasticized guitar chord coated in euphony and reduced bliss, additional guitar waves gyrate around the silkened riverbed, injecting a sort of celestial aura whose emanating rose-tinted complexion is ennobled by reverberation. Williams’ careful dose of hall widens the panorama without transforming his track to a cavity or vault. When the undulation stops and makes the monotonous guitar drone the only audible source of sound, its structure increasingly resembles a churchly pipe organ sound. During all these incidents, an odyssey-related feeling, whatever this may be for the respective listener, does not unfold. Everything floats gently and mellowly. During the last three minutes, the drone fades out while a placid coastline is presented. Seagulls are squawking, waves flow over the sand, the listening being reaches the shore. No matter how hard I try to link it to an excitingly dangerous journey or a labyrinthine quest, The Odyssey is sun-soaked, ultimately warm and mellifluous.


Regardless of how one approaches Adam A Williams’ On Recovery, the two-track EP tries to remain under the listener’s radar of perception. Notwithstanding the cinematic naming convention of The Odyssey and the concept of the postcards, the arrangements are adamantly reduced and minimal, yet wondrously warm and hence successful. Field recordings and a guitar or two are the only ingredients. In a way, these can be considered more than enough, for there are Ambient records that are based on one guitar only, Ben Barrett‘s excellent A Onda (2013) comes to mind. But whereas Barrett uses multitudinous filters and frequency alterations in order to mask the characteristic traits and essence, Williams does only apply a scent of reverb in order to soften the decay phase and prolong the sustain. On Recovery (the title tack) implies a convalescence from an unlucky incident. I presume the circumstances that are valid in the track itself are of the thankful kind, or else the crackling rainfall would not be perceived so positively by the means of the bucolic luminosity of the guitar drones. Awash with light and reminiscing contemplatively, this tune is downright enchanting if the listener is able to distill the warmth and euphony and drift along. This is admittedly easy. But since there is no particular hook, weird twist or galactic synth involved, the presumably streamlined aorta might be too meaningless for the desultory listener. Likewise, The Odyssey is supercharged with guitar drones and light, but here the density of the layers increases, becomes more elysian and grandiloquent without ever lifting off. The widened frequency spectrum adds depth and plasticity. Bound to earth and autochthonous, Adam A Williams’ On Recovery EP is for the patient followers of slowly floating and slightly changing Drone constructions in the veins of Tim Bass or Ben Barrett. It might not dazzle or hook the listener with strange textures or spacey surfaces, but resides in exclusively analogue-acoustic realms. This one is for guitar fans who favor simpler, easier and more cohesive aural paintings rather than shapeshifting buildups and attention-seeking maelstroms. A place of shelter.



Further listening and reading:

  • You can purchase and listen to On Recovery in full at Bandcamp.
  • Follow Adam A Williams on Twitter: @admwllms



Ambient Review 236: Adam A Williams – On Recovery (2013). Originally published on Jul. 3, 2013 at