There are a few obvious reasons why psychedelic artistry often expresses itself across a variety of mediums. For one, psychedelic music can be so aesthetically landscape-ish, almost conjuring an entire ecology with its diversity of sounds, that it encourages the mind’s eye to imagine a world of images in which to anchor those sounds. Taking psychedelic drugs directly blurs the lines between visual and audible sensation, producing bizarre overlaps that break down the illusory separation of our senses and turn it into one big experiential soup. Musicians have been exploring this link explicitly since the ’60s, and the results have varied from kitschy kaleidoscopic visuals to the creation of fantastic artistic partnerships such as between Yes and the man who illustrated their otherworldly lyrics Roger Dean, or the new age paintings of Alex Grey and prog band Tool.
Vinyl Williams is one of these artists who embrace that visual/audio nexus, using his skill as a painter and musician to take us wholly into new landscapes. His new album, Into, comes out July 25, two days after he plays the Aladdin Theater with Portland favorite Unknown Mortal Orchestra. Into is rhythmically fascinating throughout, and finds its atypical beats firmly planted in the tight-knit interplay between sparse bass lines and a heavily processed drum sound. It’s clear that Vinyl Williams is committed to producing music that challenges the listener, considering that the first two tracks, “Gold Lodge” and “Space Age Utopia,” both use an unusual 7/8 time signature. These angular beats become not jerky, but smooth and sleek when accompanied by the layers of almost bossa nova like chord changes coming out of the synths and guitars. His falsetto voice on “Space Age Utopia” in particular is reminiscent of Bebel Gilberto’s feathery and sensual tone. The other side of Vinyl Williams is his fantastic collage artwork that pulls images from all over the Middle East, India, and Africa, producing future-primitive landscapes that expand the aesthetic of his music. »
– Ethan Martin
Vinyl Williams plays live in Portland July 23 at Aladdin Theater