British singer/songwriter A.A. Williams‘ self-titled debut EP sparks intrigue upon the first listen. Whilst being signed to Holy Roar Records, a label that’s primarily known for aggressive and punishing music, the tentative piano chords that signal the start of Williams‘ release seem unexpected.
Taking cues from the raw elements of Emma Ruth Rundle and incorporating a sparse and haunting blanket of sounds, Williams creates an intimate and penetrating experience. Across the four tracks displayed on the release, a bleak and honest viewpoint is unapologetically sewn into minimal and stirring soundscapes.
Taking a stripped back approach in tracks such as ‘Control’ and ‘Cold’, Williams utilises sporadic distortion and shimmering dual vocals to bring the dynamics to the forefront. By taking a restrained approach to composition, not only do the hypnotic vocals draw you in, it also allows subtle changes to create unexpected impacts.
Diverting from the primarily acoustic led tracks that precede it, ‘Belong’ takes equal influence from trip hop and shoegaze. Scattered beats and ambient pads suit alongside droning guitar notes and exposed vocals, using the unedited microphone feedback to brilliant effect. As it evolves into a staccato driven string melody during its bridge, the minimal approach is disregarded as multiple elements collide. Dense instrumentation switches the focus from Williams‘ vocals to ringing feedback and loose guitar chords.
As a debut EP, A.A. Williams has crafted a distinct sound founded on intimacy and hypnotic melody that provides a strong foundation to expand on. Whilst curiosity may lead you to this release, strong melodies and a raw undercurrent will take you into a journey of haunting soundscapes and tender vocal performances.