Boomkat Product Review:
Bristolian William Yates impresses with his Trilogy Tapes debut, following crucial records for Sähkö and his own memorecs imprint with a sprawl of tempered, dusky jazz, beyond-the-pier eccentricity and par-boiled, psychedelic ambience. One for fans of Elodie, Tenniscoats, Joanna Brouk or Ryuichi Sakamoto.
We've had a bounty of riches this year from Yates already. Back in Spring he released both a brilliant, self-titled Sähkö EP and the sublime 'How Was Your Life?', an album we described as "fantasy exotica". 'Tollard' follows the former more closely, using delicate, late-night jazzy sequences to set the mood and then interrupting them with foley scratches and discreet lysergic processes. At its best, like on 'Audrey's Lane', the album sounds like a light-hearted prod at recent history, dissolving its mise en place of high and low cultural artifacts (clunky organs, swooping strings) into a rhythmic boil of slippery textures and salty flavors. Yates doesn't confine himself to a single genre or era either: on 'Laughing Grass' he teases pastoral ambience from bluegrass, and on 'Rain Bells' sounds closer to Joanna Brouk, using FM bell sounds and gentle squeezebox drones to paint a hypnotic, informal portrait.
The shadow of electrified prog hangs over the lengthy 'In the Lark's Next', sounding like Vangelis or early Genesis as it weaves an arpeggiated synth through fanfare blasts and pattering hand drums, and on 'Door to the Sky', Yates reflects the cheerful, ramshackle sincerity of Japan's beloved Tenniscoats with a casual stumble of toy synths, banjo, strings and radio static. His skillful hand is evident throughout; Yates cut his teeth making obsessively engineered bass music alongside local peers like Batu, and while there's little of that aesthetic left here, the attention to detail is palpable. His voice cracks over blown-out, screwed 'n chopped drums on the elegiac 'Funny to Stay the Same' and we're reminded of another West Country legend: Matt Elliott, aka Third Eye Foundation.
But Yates' music isn't self-consciously downbeat - each track is infused with an energy that's as nurturing as the smell of home-baked cookies. On 'Polly's Palace' he subverts bombastic, pompous leads with chiming keys and cool-headed guitar licks, and by the time we hit the finale 'Munday's Pond' we're in free improv territory, led thru the murk by scraped strings and prepared clanks that evolve from chaos into bliss. Genre's almost completely out of the window here, and while the loose guiding hand of jazz keeps the album grounded, Yates spies a world of music around him that can't be boxed in.