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Anthony Reynolds – A World Of Colin Wilson

Rocket Girl

Untreated, Colin Wilson’s voice might be Paul Vaughan, the narrator of Coil’s “The Golden Section”; it has the same, slightly clipped, slightly cold authority but we don’t get to hear enough of it on this album. There’s a lot of processing here and the voice is often unrecognisable, sent off into shivers and hums and blurs. This is a strength of most of the music I like (the disembodied voice is a well-loved trope and one I use a lot – too much – in my own music) but for this album, ostensibly about Colin Wilson (or a glimpse into him) it seems an odd choice to remove so much of the man, since that cold reason is what Wilson fans like about him.

If this is an attempt to derail expectation then it works but I’m not sure to what cost. To submerge seems a missed opportunity, especially when the voice is often left out there to just drift aimlessly in the (occasionally pretty) mire. When identifiable music breaks through – classical snippets, jazz – the setting works much better; when snarled in machine noise or ambient gloop, less so. I’d liked to have seen more of the jazz bits… the kind of thing that worked really well around and against the voice of Steven Jesse Bernstein on Prison. The piano tinkles on “Surprised by Joy,” for instance have their own slow flow but the mostly inaudible voice adds nothing and ends up kind of subtracting; the whole becoming less than the sum of the parts, a kind of alchemy in near reverse.

I’m being uncharitable. I know that. I actually quite like this album; have played it more than once, remain intrigued by it. Lots of it works really well; would slip easily into a mixtape. I just wanted to hear more of Colin Wilson, having been a bit of a fanboy ever since I first stumbled on a copy of The Outsider in a Brighton bookshop. The outsider looking in is perhaps a central motif of Wilson’s work so maybe Anthony Reynolds thought to trap him outside his own album, kept him at the distance that Wilson aspired to. If so, fair enough; I get that, it does make an intellectual sense. But when his voice does emerge, it’s a wonderful instrument, made for paying attention to. The Hill” works pretty well and I like the long strewn out jazz drone and electronic squeals of New York ozone memory” but then “Cornwall” sounds a little bit too much like Cornwall (and vaguely reminds me of some of Nurse With Wound’s seafaring albums from a few years ago) and goes nowhere in the mist whilst much better is the oddly lounge setting of the beginning of “The colour of light around me” where the hum behind his voice lifts it to something even more other…

-Loki-

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