Maybe he doesn’t remember, but Joe Williamson’s excellent The Ungrateful Carjacker (Grob) was among the very first reviews penned for this website. Great to hear from the man again via the initial three releases on his own imprint, needless to say arrived here quite a while ago.
JOE WILLIAMSON & THE INCONVENIENCE – Everything Should Have Been Just Fine
This is a relatively funny record featuring ten songs, sung and performed with Alex Ward on guitar and drummers John Blease and Paul May. No excess of analytic effort will be spent, for this kind of songwriting doesn’t warm my heart too much. But the tunes are reasonably palatable, a sense of dejected sarcasm permeating their diverse atmospheres. How to define the genre? Soft post-rock? I really don’t know. It’s a modest electric trio that might even appeal to certain segments of today’s listening population, lacking the pretense of being anything than friends who are having a good time doing this. The mocking out-of-tuneness of Williamson’s stray voice is both a disarming feature and the reason for which The Inconvenience are not going to be seen at the Grammy Awards ceremony anytime soon. Never say never, though; if Nirvana became idols, everything is possible.
JOE WILLIAMSON – The Inhibitionist
Solo double bass, circa 41 minutes. The opening title track explores a wide range of ill-at-ease sonorities, utilizing all kinds of technique to conjure up a rationally deployed array of fractured growls, corroded rapture and squeaking grease. A few seconds of precious quietness are found between flurrying intensity and plucked reliability, and in the final portion splinters of upper partials and genuine sparkles fly from the spot where horse’s hair and metal meet. “Substance 33” throws a little gasoline on that fire, adding muscle to the performance while starting to affirm a lordship of the lower frequencies – even in the presence of the most absurd types of ionized gesticulation. Williamson sounds like a frantic activist of the nail-on-an-immaculate-car militia, and this is meant as a compliment. His proclivity to tune the instrument to a room’s resonance is definitively affirmed in “Keepin’ It Realistic”, a drone-galore piece that one would define “inevitable” if it didn’t sound so good. The splendid tone of the bass is akin to the voice of a oversized sage: he may suggest profound truths that we’ve inexorably identified years earlier, but the bliss experienced in listening to them again remains unequalled.
DAVID STACKENHÄS / JOE WILLIAMSON / PHIL DURRANT – The King Of Herrings
A triptych of live improvisations for acoustic guitar with preparations, double bass and laptop. “Encipherer” features the typical shrilling accents of a computer/bowed strings mixture, soon joined by the big brother’s drawl immediately moving the piece’s gravity into familiar environments of buzz and gravel. Then it’s off to semi-regulated din, the riotous temperament of each source trying to look for a way out of constriction but ultimately calming down for more frequency manipulation. This results in forlorn snapshots and inappetent counterpoint spiked by grimy notes sparsely plucked by Stackenhäs; a somewhat intelligible hell is raised again until an eBow and assorted abrasions terminate the whole. This piece was taped in a London church; one guesses that its ordinary occupants weren’t all that happy. “Controlled Remote Control” instantly juxtaposes extreme sharpness and droning severity; Williamson’s pulsation sustains large parts of the improvisational structure, in which Durrant and Stackenhäs are engaged in a “forest fight for sunlight” (check Genesis’ “The Carpet Crawlers” and see what I mean). The combination of coherent efficiency and psychosomatic infiltration reaches an outstanding level halfway through the track, veritable trance pulled off just prior to the growing tension generated by the threesome before the envelope is sealed. “Parallel-o-gram” is shorter, abstract to a degree although the tangible qualities of the instruments are evident. There’s some space between the figures, yet imagining a dance around the convulsive agglomerations that start towards the end is pretty hard. Overall, this is seriously inventive music in search of exposition to a wider audience.