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Acousmatic Sorcery Limited Edition
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A young man with an old soul, Willis Earl Beal has little place in 2012. He isn’t one for travelling without moving, social media exchanges an alien concept; his stories are born from first-hand encounters spread across the United States. From New Mexico to Chicago, his journeying is the genesis of this debut set – and somewhere along the way, Mos Def got in touch proposing a film based on Beal’s life to date. His dramas are small but universal: the flush of love at first sight, and the pain of unrequited affections; the drag of minimum-wage drudgery. And everything is styled by the lo-fi feel of recording into cheap karaoke machines.
Acousmatic Sorcery possesses an offbeat magic, its hold on the listener tight but its rattle archaic. Beal hasn’t sold himself at the crossroads – he’s spied the dusty remains of those who’ve failed to broker deals with higher powers and pressed ahead alone. So this set emerges rough-edged, ill-fitting, barely a whisper compared to the modern studio majority; yet it resonates with such feeling that its contents are irresistible. Its beat-poet blues at times recall Robert Johnson as remoulded by the mindset of Saul Williams: listen to the wandering Cosmic Queries, the chain-gang clank of Swing on Low, and the trail from Mississippi blues to Brooklyn beats is brightly illuminated. Ghost Robot is boombox punk referencing Bob Dylan, while Evening’s Kiss – a lovelorn tale of being smitten by a waitress – is barely there at all, weighed from wafting into the ether only by a heavily plucked acoustic. Its analysis of self-doubt echoes across generations, even if the end product is as ‘modern pop’ as a Howlin’ Wolf anthology.
That said, the whoop and holler of bluesmen past is largely absent across these 11 cuts, even if the unpolished atmospheres are evocative of (just-)post-WWII recordings; Beal typically delivers his songs in hushed tones, raucousness the exception. What is present is that instant-click connection between artist and audience that only comes with the most naked of performances – Monotony is one such riveting recital, sketchy yet complete – and Beal’s commitment to documenting the minutiae alongside the meaningful in comparable detail ensures that even-handedness permeates the entire set. He’s laid himself bare, and in doing so has created a home of sorts after a wandering-soul existence: this is his discomfort zone, but well worth paying a visit to.
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Top Customer Reviews
*I say indie, because the music wasn't always based on Blues progressions and they often operated independently with a spirit more akin to proper indie, not the 'indie' genre tripe we get today.
Acousmatic Sorcery opens with a foreboding bell composition before seguing into the heavy, muddy blues of Take Me Away. Beal's voice is immediately grabbing, it is gutteral and raw, and his bleak poetic lyrics immediately made me think of Nick Drake, with Muddy Waters style delivery.
Beal is no one trick pony either. Throughout this album there are songs ranging from the fast and guitar driven, to compelling slow burning songs that exemplify his poetry and really compell the listener.
Yes, the musicianship is minimal, but it is the rawness and simplcity of drums that sound homemade, and crackling guitar loops that allow all the power of Beale's voice to suck you in. It's really beautiful.
There are even rap-styled songs, but think rap in the good sense. Good RZA I'm thinking.
But whatever style Beale attempts he is a complete success. Lyrically intelligent, his wit is bitter and his words fresh.
He could be the most exciting new artist to emerge in 2012, I think. Seriously there is not a song here that isn't very good and interesting.
My favourite song: Cosmic Queries, a reflective love song which culminates in the spoken word damnation reminiscent of Allen Ginsberg.
If you enjoy the White Stripes, The Black Keys, and other general blues and even rap performers, you are probably going to love Willis Earl Beal's fresh mixture of influences.
It deserves your ears attention.
You can definately tell it was recorded on cheap equipment, the mastering leaves a lot to be desired but therein lies the charm of the album.
Willis Earl Beal is a very interesting man, with a very interesting story about how this collection of songs came together for us to hear. Once you understand the story, you'll understand the sound and i imagine you won't be as put off by it. I dare say you'll find a warmth and authenticity to it that is very reflective of his overall character. Endearing, sincere and devoid of any inclination to be vapid, shallow or derivative.
I expect a more polished effort next time around but for now, this recording coupled with memories of his live performance (if you ever get the chance to see him in person, i emplore you to not second guess your decision: GO!) a satisfactory outing by an artist i think will be very, very special in years to come.
It's a great listen
Beal , still only in his early 20's, has been recording songs for some time - and then leaving the CD's around town in the (alleged) hope of using them to befriend girls!
One such CD was taken seriously by a local paper and .... to cut a long tale of hype short .... 17 of his songs were put out on a limited 200 only run of CD's. He's now signed to XL Records and 9 of the 17 songs appear on this CD (plus 'Nepenenoyka' and 'Bright Copper 'Noon' which were not on the earlier release). Criminally excluded on the commercial release are the lovely 'My Resignation' and the Screamin' Jay Hawkins-alike 'The Masquerade' which you really should see if you can find lurking on the internet.
`Acousmatic Sorcery' (the same title as the 17 track version) is a perfect title for an album which veers from challenge to pleasure and back again. Beal has an amazing voice - actually TWO voices. For much of the album (really a collection of home recorded songs 'put together' as an album) you could be mistaken for thinking it was a set of lost `Franks Wild Years' era Tom Waits out-takes (recorded in a toilet!) while on others he sounds closer to an unpolished Otis Redding.
`Evening's Kiss' is one of the few tracks from this challenging album with anything resembling conventional instrumentation. On this track you actually hear hints of guitars - whereas on many of the other tracks Beal's voice is accompanied by minimal Waits-esqe percussion and little else.Read more ›