William Fowler Collins

Western Violence & Brief Sensuality

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On his debut album, William Fowler Collins seems to will his surroundings into life, almost in a mythic way -- if the image of the electrified American West is combination of open skies, desert heat, and lost, haunted emptiness, as suggested by musicians from Ennio Morricone to Savage Republic to some of Steve Roach's collaborations, then Collins is a fine continuer of this tradition in his own way. Western Violence & Brief Sensuality makes for a great name as a result, poised somewhere between the ghost of high and lonesome twang and the ear-piercing screech of live-wire distortion screaming across the wastelands with empty after-echoes following. Sometimes the two sides coexist just so, as can be heard in the deep loping guitar set against muffled grinding background on the opening "Night Watchman," but it's a calm introduction to an album of intriguing extremes. Sometimes the nearly preternatural chill of a landmark effort like Lull's Cold Summer comes to the fore -- "Autumn Lights," with its core drone, ghostly background swirls, and surface crumble, is almost a miniature tribute to that album. Other moments emphasize the use of field recordings or found sound: "Untitled Dream 1" has rough crumbles and distant wind crackling around its calm, chilled guitar meditations and melodies, while "Midday Sunshower" feels both like a storm and a meditative zone as tones rise from the distance while swirling roughness spatters closer to the microphone. A song like "Dawn at McDonald Ranch" eventually settles into a calmer drone but not before a trebly wash of thin, intense feedback, while the big guitar grind of "Foothill's Ghost" suggests his own take on classic acid burnout, through different but parallel sensibilities.

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