15 April 2012

Willamette - echo park (2011, Infraction)

Willamette river is 301 km long, lying entirely in northwestern Oregon, mostly known for the beauty of its valley. Echo Park is a hilly neighborhood in Los Angeles , California, mostly publicized for its park and particularly its small lake, which at one time was said to contain the largest planting of lotuses outside Asia before they suddenly all died.

My favor goes to the lotus lake and to the park, but with a vegetation I imagine luxuriant and of forest type, light green, emblematic of late spring and early summer, still not marked by the drought and the burning summer rays. I also dream of a subdued lighting, a stable feeling of comfort and safety, and soft rain, falling episodically, with a sky all shades of gray, long and massive clouds floating, crossing the sky while silently changing forms.

Willamette is a trio, formed by Davin Chong, Kevin Chong (who both released a couple of records as Northern) and Joseph Edward (who released as "Automobile, Swift", under his own name but who is mostly responsible of the impressive album "Composite" as Pasture), with cello contributions by Danny Norbury.

Of course, references to the Stars of The Lid and William Basinksi are difficult to avoid but Willamette is exploring an entirely different scale and perspective, with probably Georges Delerue as one of the directions.

While your emotions may are naturally inclined by such references, on "Echo Park", you are much more free to plunge yourself into the setup or no. Like Northern, nothing is imposed, like Pasture, there are vibrant atmospheres you need to embrace, adopt and interpret. The changes, the elements,  are subtle and understated.

You can cross the album some days just like if you were blind and at another moment, while you're playing it, you will resonate with this music entirely. It is not an easy record which show all its content directly, it is far more complex and subtly than you may think it is, and up to now I have listened to it thirty times and i just start to really feel into it.

The only mystery is why it took them three years, between 2006 and 2009 to compose and record, and two more years to release this album, maybe it was the time necessary to drown all the melodies and movements until they are no more but pure and delicate impressions, translucent ghosts, breathing nostalgia and melancholy.

It takes time too, as a listener to understand how much the compositional backbone of this record is solid, precise and precious. Maybe the best time to listen to it is when you feel pensive and quiet, when you're alone for a drifting walk or just contemplating the view from the window of your room or from an empty train crossing the countryside between two distant towns.

Then "Echo Park" could make you feel strangely both relieved and lightly depressive, able to just enjoy the beauty of the late afternoon light, when the sun is low and glowing, revealing the surroundings even better than at dawn. Highly recommended.


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