Formless grooves and elegant ambience from the London-based duo.
Ian Wade 2011-10-21
The beauty of WALLS is that there are none. Musically speaking, at least. There’s nothing to lean against, or prop yourself up on, with the London-based pair of Italian Alessio Natalizia and Mancunian Sam Willis, who also have day jobs with Banjo or Freakout and the DJ duo/podcast purveyors Allez Allez respectively. Their self-titled debut from 2010 scooped a handful of album of the year nods, and they’ve gained fans in Jamie xx, Caribou, James Holden and Battles – the latter even invited WALLS’ formless grooves onto the road with them.
Coracle explores parched new territories, comprising a dazed, blinking walk in the sunlight; coming on like a new form of shoegaze amoeba-ing around delicate structures. It takes in elements of krautrock and early house. It is categorically not chill-out music – it’s more absorbing than that. Into Our Midst blows in like a more upbeat Boards of Canada, acting as an entry point towards the light, propelling itself along via snapshots of sound and shapes. The bliss encountered during the first three tracks – the marvellous Sunporch is perhaps the highlight here – slips away briefly on Il Tedesco; then, on Vacant, they sound like a submerged F*** Buttons with just as much artillery, except not quite so fierce that your face melts. Raw Umber/Twilight begins like a detonated Pantha du Prince before evolving into a sleek aluminium 1980s sheerness, giving way for the cosmic country of Ecstatic Truth to come in from the corner of your eye, as stars dart about before your ears. Closer Drunken Galleon elegantly wafts in 4AD-ly, like some scorched take on This Mortal Coil.
Coracle is an album that may make more sense when you’re having some well-earned ‘me time’ in a hot bath, or could easily have perfectly soundtracked the handful of days we call summer had it come out three months ago, rather than anything as strenuous as operating light machinery. It is certainly a step up, and a step on, from their debut. There’s more to digest, and WALLS’ personality becomes more evident. Possibly an album of the year for the wider populous, then, rather than something semi-secret admired only by exclusive listener sets.