Things Our Bodies
Used To Have
The Suprematism Of Kids
Talk about kids, a golden thread — or was that threat? — that runs through society which is itself shaped by the mighty P-genre even today. Pop may be proclaimed dead, and indeed, society's collective heirloom is farther away from the noosphere than ever, but then there's always the less pompous, though at times similarly melodramatic world of Glitch, Drone, Shoegaze. This triptych as well as the focal point of/about/onto kids are the story arch of the Chicagoan trio Good Willsmith's sophomore full-length album Things Our Bodies Used To Have, released in February 2016 on the Mexico City-based Umor Rex Records and available in an edition of 300 limited LP's (clear vinyl!), designed als always by Daniel Castrejón. A download version is also available directly from the label's Bandcamp page.
The follow-up to the band's 2014 debut The Honeymoon Workbook, released on Umor Rex and reviewed on AmbientExotica as well, is a different beast altogether. Whereas the former is more of a bustling melting pot of Ambient ayres and and Folk signifiers, the follow-up Things Our Bodies Used To Have offers contingency through chaos, or so it seems: basically one single long track spliced into seven parts for the sake of convenience, the trio gyres between longitudinal lozenges, sine sinews and galactic gates, with salubrious warmth and mephitic toxicity always close at hand. The personnel remains the same: Doug Kaplan and Maxwell Allison, runners of their Hausu Mountain label, bring in the oscillators, guitars, synths and percussion devices while hiding the mimicry of birdcalls and twirling the tape reels for one's psychedelic pleasure, whereas Natalie Chami aka TALsounds has all hands on deck, all feet on the guitar pedals and all vocal chords in the troposphere. Here is a closer look at the album's appealing constituents whirring few and far between the chlorotic reverse-agism.
Analogue Camphor, Dampened To Love
The antagonistic entanglement of analogue warmth and digital glaciality has been well-documented throughout the 90's, eventually leading to the genre that is (also) called Glitch, and which is so frequently featured on Umor Rex. This sentiment is also the forte of Good Willsmith, but it isn't considered a blueprint, let alone a dogma. In fact, the MOSFET-induced centrioles bask in camphene when the trio is working in order to caulk the opposing forces. The opener These Kids Aren’t Loving It, for instance, is a wondrously legatofied plateau of alkaline Moog flumes that is later accentuated by cerulean endohedral blips. Amicability through nostalgic remoteness is the primary ingredient, or to say it differently: less shards, more silk. And so a deliciously streamlined underbelly of soothing slumber slides can be found in almost every track, whether it is the bass guitar chirality on Not Your Kids, the multiplexed physiognomy of the acidic-lactic lariats in But Someone Else's Kids, or the almost Detroit-y crepuscular twilight thiazide in the shape of agglutinated space lutes in What Goes In The Ocean Goes In You. Rest assured that Good Willsmith revisit, reprise and repraise the opener ad infinitum.
Inculcated Propellants: Shoegaze And Quercetin
In the paragraphs above, I have mentioned Glitch and Drone as the primary constituents of Good Willsmith's sophomore full-length album. If anyone asks for a more precise delineation, these drones eventually turn into Shoegaze, if not through the phytotelemata of the opener, then even more so in the following pieces. The aforementioned Not Your Kids forcefully injects scythingly overdriven strums of industrialism into the adiabatic improv serenade, all of which protrude the gunmetal cloud in order to reach adaxial airs, speckled with silver flashes of rhenium. Whales Sing Great Melodies With Fantastic Lyrics meanwhile serves as both the appendix to the opener and the placenta of the just mentioned Not Your Kids, oscillating between the salubrious saffron shape of things and the chaotic rotenone-riotous rhizome reticulation. Two energy levels clash: the calorific warmth of the droning doldrums, and the mercilessly helicoidal corkscrew cavalcade of muscular muons and glacial glints. Staccatofied Shoegaze with salted quercetin quorn? Do it for the kids!
Low Poly Aesthetics And Excimer Rhythms
As Things Our Bodies Used To Have relies so heavily on washed out, retrogressive and tastefully antediluvian redundancies, it is only natural that this blissful state is potentially annihilated — or at least pestered — by means of the glitchier elements and atonal artifacts. Good Willsmith's power horse is no tried-and-true Ambient album, even though it appears in the very section of this website. A drift happens instead, if not immediately, then certainly on side B. Cautiously and carefully, the maelstrom of paraquat spores and voluminous wisps is further accentuated by feigned rhythms, themselves surprisingly soft sporophytes: the quirky arcade antrum of These Kids Aren't Alright is momentarily aided by classic kick drums and seething hi-hats in its quieter sections, Not Your Kids probably entices the only sanctuary of an orderly, albeit laid-back rhythm, and even the corkscrew tohubohu amid the otherwise beatless sections of any one song is a zoetropically apoplectic metronome. There is sense to be found in this supra-dimensional hydrazine. But whose sense exactly?
Debris Or Decay?
The title of the album: a claim about senescence. Inscribed within the divided long-form track: vestiges of the past and an angry outlook about the things to come. Naturally — and luckily — that's just one possible interpretation, probably the easiest to cross one's mind due to the comparatively transparent antagonists, forces and foes that materialize, diffuse and glow in the dark. But there is an elysian counterpoint to be found: the chromatic aberration of goodness and languor, easy to observe in the saccharified drone aorta that runs through the veins of Things Our Bodies Used To Have right from the opener's very first notes, but also traceable in the mercilessly twisted entanglement of the glitchier blips and ferocious fermions. These devices are hardened and made of aural steel more often than not, but when they align in the right way, even for short moment of a mere microseconds, the timbrical allure and pectiniform construction prospers. I for one see the positive, benignant core of Good Willsmith's album in front of me; the flaring injustice and hateful anger are only the equivalent's to the real world's bustling gossip.
Further listening and reading:
- Purchase/stream Good Willsmith’s LP directly at Bandcamp.
- Group and label on Twitter: @GoodWillsmith @UmorRex
Ambient Review 463: Good Willsmith – Things Our Bodies Used To Have (2016). Originally published on Feb. 17, 2016 at AmbientExotica.com.