- Walls' debut was too ephemeral, and it wasn't just the swift running length. It felt facile—like a series of first take heart-gush melodies masquerading as something more complex beneath a slew of effects and slight audio distortions. Countless listens in, it refused to adhere, to negotiate any space beyond its superficial pleasantness. Now, for their second album in as many years for Kompakt, Coracle, the duo—Alessio Natalizia and Sam Willis—have returned with what feels like a noticeably more coherent and muscular approach to ambient techno-rock.
Which is certainly not to insinuate that, from the surface, the duo have changed all that much. Their sound still treads between the heat-haze shoegaze textures of artists like Nathan Fake or Luke Abbott and the dizzier kosmische terrains of Cluster or Harmonia. Ascendant vocal lines swell beneath pitter-patter drum machines and grand washes of drone and synth-murmur. Their epic first-morning melodies still seem to boil more than they simmer, like they've been left to bubble and overflow a little too long on the stove. But beneath these similarities lies a renewed confidence and attention to ebb-and-flow detail that marks a strict departure from the often insipid Day-Glo bedroom fare of their debut. What felt like sketches feel now more fully refined and considered.
Just listen to the way "Raw Umber/Twilight" meanders from its twilit bell pattern and night hush ambience into the kind of guitar-laced synth-fuzz of an act like Tycho before closing in a gorgeous Leyland Kirby-like moment of melancholic decline. In a single six-minute fade, it connects the dots between labels like Border Community, Planet Mu and Internasjonal. "Ecstatic Truth," with its beach-stroll guitar and interwoven synth buzzes, is similarly incandescent, while both "Heat Haze" and "Sunporch" are brawnier approaches to the sugar rush indie-techno of their debut. Meanwhile, closer "Drunken Galleon" is a sparse, spacious ballad, with its soft keys slowly giving out to small cloudbursts of static.
There will always be long-standing Kompakt fans and dance music listeners who never embrace Walls. The way they trade so directly in the heart-on-sleeve seems kind of suspicious to both hardened academic dance lovers and those open to downier crossover climes.They clearly understand the value of the direct appeal, but on Coracle, the duo has rounded out the pre-manufactured pleasantries of their debut into headier, more substantive approaches to IDM, Chicago house, and nu-kosmische.
01. Into Our Midst
02. Heat Haze
04. Il Tedesco
06. Ecstatic Truth
07. Raw Umber/Twilight
08. Drunken Galleon