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Acousmatic Sorcery

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iTunes Review

The story is a good one. Beal is said to have recorded this album on a karaoke machine with a $20 microphone while working nights as a hotel porter; he then promoted himself with hand-drawn fliers that included his home address and phone number. Whether the story checks out, the music here is primitive and evokes the sounds of Daniel Johnston, The Moldy Peaches, and lesser-known "outsider artists." Yet the songs are surprisingly conventional once one attunes to the barebones sound. Beal's voice is pleasant, and his lyrics paint pictures in unusual cadences. "Sambo Joe from the Rainbow" takes Bill Callahan's downbeat approach and adds a touch of sunshine. "Ghost Robot" turns in a primitive rap song that makes Beck's lowest-fi recordings sound polished. "Swing on Low" goes even further into automated sound. "Away My Silent Lover" comes across world-weary, with "Take Me Away" turning to blues via Tom Waits. This clearly isn't for everyone, but for those who enjoy the unusual and a challenge, Willis Earl Beal is an enigma worth figuring out. 


Born: Chicago, IL

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Chicago singer/songwriter Willis Earl Beal began his foray into the music business by tacking hand-drawn flyers all over the greater metropolitan area with his phone number and address. The flyers said "My name is Willis Earl Beal. Call me and I'll sing you a song. Write to me and I'll draw you a picture." Beginning around the end of the 2000s, Beal was busking in train stations and making good on the promises of his flyers whenever the occasional call came in. In 2009 Found Magazine graced the cover...
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Acousmatic Sorcery, Willis Earl Beal
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