It is a virtually absent record, within a genre suffering from a plethora of releases. You can fail to notice it so easily.
Even if you give it an ear, the lock is so thin that you may try so slip under the door instead.
Like the cover art, it is a dream in black and white, an empty room, which is both an invitation to sit down and an imaginary, unreal space. You may need several decompression valves, in order to escape of your ordinary daily routine and embrace their meticulous evocations.
They have a romantic approach to melancholy, quite sensitive and minimal, they recreate both the atmosphere of a room or of a garden, and you enter the door or walk on the pathway, with the feeling of the light and the soft wind on your skin and hair, the rustling of leaves and curtains, the faint scent of distant flowers or traces of perfume still floating in the air from someone already gone. All of this is Willamette.
The biggest surprise is that this record is just 29 minutes long, because you have the feeling there are maybe as much nuances, restraint and subtleties than in a double album by The Stars of the Lid. The eight tracks are remarkably concise, between 2:36 and 4:33 so there is no place for overlong passages or hypnotic moments filling periods where nothing happens.
If it was necessary for me to listen to "Echo Park" thirty times before getting the sensation to feel at home and fully understand its richness, with this refined new opus I needed ten more and now at close to forty plays for each track I finally start to feel really inside, below the arch. For such reason, Willamette really stands apart from most of the ambient scene as they mostly seem to rival with themselves, achieving and completing the most precise expression of their emotions and not really caring about using artifacts in order to impress.
The more you listen attentively to their music, the more it seems precious, rich, steadfast, deep and breathtaking. "Portrait of a sleeping girl with radio" seems legendary and it goes on like that, vibrant on "un court thème pour lyla", contemplating the grey horizon line, full of winter clouds, on "a year of failure, a year of fortune", trying to keep yourself warm on "balustrade (hand writ)", while you're waiting for the next train or bus, filling your lungs and blood vessels with the blissfulness of "open wounds (for j.n.)", feeling the warm water on your arms one early morning, while taking a bracing shower before heading for work on "avenue heights, carouselled horse", celebrating an autumnal dusk on "images d'une longueur de cheveux", until finally coming to an end with a slightly more classic "always in postscript", with a piano line buried under recurring waves of drones.