Category: Electronic / Experimental
Blurb: A mammoth double-vinyl outing that demonstrates the fullest range of Phil Western’s musical capabilities, taking the listener through virtually every sonic mood one could ask for.
Never one to allow his music to be pigeonholed, Phil Western utilizes the double-vinyl album format to its utmost, making it an aptly title Longform release. Many may know him for being a key played in cEvin Key’s Download and PlatEAU side projects, but Western has never allowed the shadow of that association to overtake him, and Longform is one more item of proof. Allowing his music the time and the space to develop freely and explore virtually every sonic realm that excites him, from chilled out techno rhythms to spaced out ambience, from caustic industrial percussive textures to softly melodic and almost jazzy excursions, Longform is an album of absolute freedom tempered by the focus of a man with decades of musical experience behind him.
To receive the full effect of the album corresponding to its double-vinyl format, one really should divide the tracks into their respective sides, and given its length, not all in a single sitting. “5 6 7 8” begins Side A with swirls of psychedelic pads, the faint glimmers of voices hidden beneath the waves until the track fades out, making for an effective intro. “Come and Play with Us” then enters with the stuttering snippets of guitar and vocals, a strident beat and subtle slap bass entering to supplement the glitchy rhythm. In a short time, fluttery vocals fade in and out of the mix for an aquatic and dreamlike effect, and the album starts to hit its rhythmic stride, followed by the layers of melodic arpeggios that akin to early Autechre in “Lost in the Woods,” the tensely danceable and almost elegiac “Wanna Make Good Music,” and the foreboding atmosphere of “Dementhol” as wails of Theremin and modulated vocals intertwine to great effect.
Side B begins with “Big Bear” as washes of feedback and ambience coalesce into a dramatic intro that suddenly breaks into a trancelike attack of danceable beats and stuttering pad melodies, so much a part of Western’s sonic signature that it’s less a surprise and more a welcome invitation. While “They’re Just out of Your Reach” and the title track “Longform” continue down the vein of psychedelic electronic trance, full of waves of gated synth and swirling pads. Side C begins with the longest track on the album as “Behind Me Satan” steadily begins from a simple dance beat and gradually builds with its subtly mixed samples and progressing waves of ambient synths make for Western’s signature blend of relaxed chill and anxious excite. From here, the album begins to reach a sort of lull as the playful arpeggios and melodies set to a rather groovy bass in “Voices Telling Me to Go” through to the reverberations of voice-like pads and the bubbly electro bass of “Mora Smile” sound at once vibrant and fresh while retaining a classic quality that pervades much of Western’s music. Closing the album out is “18 Years,” a slow and meditative track with a powerful if sparse drumbeat and echoing vocal effects reminiscent of shoegazer, with a jazzy undertone reminiscent of Portishead, providing a final bit of lush calm after the energy and pace that preceded it.
It’s clear that Phil Western puts forth 110% in all of his creative endeavors, and Longform is no exception. As stated, the album’s four-side length grants him the space to explore the varying sides to his musical personality, and he does so with dramatic and satisfying results without never falling into the realm of tedium or monotony. However, it is a very long album and perhaps best experienced in carefully arranged segments – not simply side-by-side, but the nature of Western’s music allows for other moods and progressions to take place; make your own mix of this album, and the effect will be no less profound as Phil Western does well to continue taking his listeners on marvelous sonic journeys.
Phil Western MySpace https://myspace.com/philwestern
Phil Western Facebook https://www.facebook.com/phillip.c.western
Phil Western Bandcamp http://philwestern.bandcamp.com
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Storming the Base Vinyl
Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)