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Album Review

On his 2015 album Into, Vinyl Williams expanded the scope of his arrangements, added some new colors to his sonic palette, and morphed his space rock-shoegaze-chillwave sound into something almost epic. The range of sounds and styles Williams delved into on the album was impressive, jumping from Motorik jams to disco, then to new wave and new age-y soundscapes. The follow-up, 2016's Brunei, is a much more focused affair, with Williams settling into a late-night, chilled to just above freezing mode and rarely going much further. He seems to have taken up the moody, synth-heavy bedroom R&B his label boss Toro y Moi left behind and run with it. Not run exactly, more like he lounges around with the occasional burst of energy to keep eyelids from closing all the way, like on the bouncing, almost insistent "Evol." His skills as a sonic craftsman and his knack for whipping up fresh melodies that have some stickiness in them help him be more than just another Toro acolyte. So do the moments of weirdness that dot the album like little flashes of sunshine through the almost fully drawn bedroom blinds. The proggy funk interludes on "Feedback Delicates," the overloaded guitar fuzz on "Voidless," and the super-spaced synths on "Aboroun" provide the necessary breaks from all the endlessly pleasant, easy to swallow sounds and songs. It's clear that Williams is taking a step back here, burying his vocals in the mix, coating everything with a chillwave gloss, and making sure not to disturb the careful arrangements with anything jagged or overly emotional. It's a move that could be disappointing to those who may have wanted him to get more epic and take some chances, but for anyone who enjoys sinking into a gooey, sleepy, eerily warm, and keyboard-laden sonic murk, but still wants the occasional hooky tune to keep them happy, Brunei may be just the right thing to keep the good times peacefully rolling.

Customer Reviews

All the best bits and pieces!

I can't but feel bad that I'm just now hearing Vinyl Williams for the first time. This band sounds so familiar to me but like nothing else. They sound like the bits and pieces of all of my favorite bands or songs arranged together in the most pleasing way. They are androgynous and catchy. The music is clean and then droney. I hear swirling atmosphere that takes me to another place. I'm in my 40s and this music reminds me of the glorious late 80's early 90's shoe-gaze I loved so much. I really can't wait to hear more

Familiar, and That’s a Good Thing

This band reminds me a bunch of Alan Parsons Project. The same smooth textures and mixtures of rhythm. Recommended.


Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '10s

The résumé of Los Angeles-based multimedia artist Lionel Williams may seem heady, quoting Egyptian BioGeometry and Russellian science as key influences, but when he performs under the name Vinyl Williams, his music draws from more typical reference points like shoegaze and psychedelic pop. As the grandson of renowned film composer John Williams, his style is different than one might expect. Instead of being thick and orchestral, his improvised bedroom recordings are akin to the dreamy lo-fi of acts...
Full Bio
Brunei, Vinyl Williams
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Customer Ratings