Review: William Cody Watson – Bill Murray

(LP, Bathetic Records, 2012)

William Cody Watson, the Wayfarer-clad entity behind the noise projects Malibu Wands, Pink Priest and Gremlynz, shows a softer, ambient-oriented side on his Bathetic released vinyl release, “Bill Murray”. Connections between William’s music and the American actor might be unclear, but it seems like Bill has been the constant source of inspiration to the other Bill in the process of creating this album. There are deformed, blurry faces on the album cover. But they most likely don’t belong to Murray, the sudden crack in the solid, pitch black surface doesn’t bring much comfort either. As if to indicate that the seemingly calm and angelic ride will contain moments of abrasive torture – not the harsh noise level of torture, but it’s definitely intense and ragged at times; releases like Jefre Cantu-Ledesma’s “Love is a Stream” or Tim Hecker’s “Mirages”.

On “Bill Murray”, Watson crafts the more textural, “difficult” type of ambient – the one that basically lacks much, if any, melody (or even if there is some melody, it’s so stretched over the entire side of vinyl it’s barely noticeable). Instead, it relies heavily on the use of various textures to create various moods. It usually progresses from the more silky, delicate areas into the intense, vibrating monoliths specked with a bit of noise in the most emotional moments – as if the emotional states were reflected by the heaviness of sound, the most consuming moments being the most abrasive and harsh. Each side is divided into movements – even though it’s hard to notice separate movements, there’s always a small signifier warning about the change to come – usually it’s the change of a pitch of a given texture: a bassy line is added, the noise is reduced or a different sounding drone is added into the mix.

If William Cody Watson’s album is meant to be a tribute to the work of Bill Murray, it is the tribute for the more difficult, emotionally torn Bill Murray, the depressed and desperate Bill Murray he got us used to with his roles films like “The Royal Tenenbaums” or the more serious moments of “Groundhog Day”. This LP and Murray’s serious roles pose that it is important to sometimes get rid of the gimmicks, the shock value and the comedic one-liners in favor of some true humanity and emotion. Good, immersive listen.

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