A former Mercury Prize nominee back when he used to record as East India Youth over five years ago, Bournemouth-based musician William Doyle returns with an album under his own name. Featuring a collaboration with none other than Brian Eno (‘Design Guide’), Your Wilderness Revisited is the formal return of a fine composer and songwriter.
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In the Epic of Gilgamesh, the titular character "was weary, found peace, and set all his labours on a tablet of stone". I was reminded of this quote when listening to William Doyle's new album 'Your Wilderness Revisited'. Not only do both works constantly make reference to natural environments, but that idea of setting all labours, or honesty in the production of art, is apparent in the album too.
Doyle's voice is often stripped of ornament, both sonically and thematically. For instance, in 'Nobody Else Will Tell You' Doyle sounds as clear as the "still of nothingness" he describes in 'Thousands of Hours of Birds'. He also writes disarmingly quotidian lines like "I went for a walk". His singing is true. It bears resemblance to Shirley Collins' style, a completely natural intensity that's derived from simple lines delivered without embellishment. Why then, does this album have a hyperreal intensity? I don't think it's because we've all been beaten into submission by vocals laden with compressors, reverb, and echo, but because, like the saturated album cover of Doyle floating 'twixt foliage, it conveys a weird and disturbed natural through the interplay of organic and articificial elements. 'Zionshill' begins with the sound of chattering birds and the strum of acoustic guitar. These sounds are soon paired with the clinical thud of a drum machine that gives way to an unsettling, metallic rattle. By the end of the song the various elements have coalesced into uneasy unity; it becomes impossible to place where sounds are coming from.
That uneasy unity is, I think, made reference to in the title. The ideas of "wilderness" and "revisited" do not sit well together, appearing to erode and redefine one another. They are put in flux through this pairing. Can a wilderness be so if revisited? This is why this album is so beguiling. The music is dynamic, it morphs and moves. The various elements, both organic and inorganic, voice and instrument, can always be reclassified. They can be considered as both a separate entities and a whole, like a plant that's both unique and part of ever-widening taxonomies.
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- Your Wilderness Revisited by William Doyle
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