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Lionel Williams leaves behind the murkier lo-fi production of his 2012 debut full-length, Lemniscate, for the somnambulant pop of Into. The new album—out July 24th on Chaz Bundick’s (Toro Y Moi, Les Sins) Company Records—moves Lionel’s Vinyl Williams alias into a more vivid, multi-colored dream world. Unlike the dramatic film scores of his grandfather (famed composer and conductor John Williams), this 25-year-old Los Angeles-based musician’s songs are far more introspective, effortlessly blending ambient, electronic, Krautrock, psychedelia and shoegaze influences into a uniquely visceral listening experience that often mirrors the surrealism of his own collage-based visual artwork.
Like staring at the intricate geometry of a nautilus shell through a rippling aqua lens, Into’s detailed arrangements shimmer across the stereo field with Williams’ breathy, yearning melodies bathed in warm reverb. The gentle, rhythmic percolation of breezy album opener “Gold Lodge” imagines CAN at their most ethereal, as if vying for a release on 4AD Records during the label’s halcyon days. Similarly, Cocteau Twins-esque guitars ring above the pulsing kosmische atmosphere of “Hall of Records” and then later, the 10-plus-minute “Xol Rumi” takes a detour across the Autobahn using Neu!’s motorik precision. Elsewhere, the celestial “Greatest Lives” shuffles through a thick, gooey cloud of synths, while instrumental “The Tears of an Inanimate Object” pays tribute to the spiritually minded explorations of Alice Coltrane and Dorothy Ashby, with astral harp strums guiding the light electronic accompaniment.
From the mysterious, nocturnal drive of first single “World Soul” to the gauzy, space-age funk of “Allaz,” Vinyl Williams nicely blurs the line between melodicism and experimentation, his impressionistic song-craft being as inviting as it is beguiling. In this modern era of shuffled playlists and musically short attention spans, Into is that rare album created to be listened to uninterrupted from beginning to end, and one that is sure to reveal itself again and again after each successive play.