Willis Earl Beal
Acousmatic Sorcery


2.0
poor

Review

by Dan H. EMERITUS
September 7th, 2014 | 13 replies


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Teething problems.

Almost everyone is a sucker for rags to riches success stories. Perhaps it’s because humanity has a tendency to root for the underdog, or maybe it’s because it illustrates just what we're capable of if we really put our minds to something. Of all the artists who have struggled and toiled to succeed in their trade, few have invested more emotionally than Willis Earl Beal. Beal found himself homeless after a medical discharge from the United States army and he began working entry level jobs, all whilst doggedly pursuing his love of music. Acousmatic Sorcery is the emotional outpour of a man who struggled through the tedium and wrote songs when he had “no logical reason to be hopeful.” Logic however didn't stop him from writing and recording and leaving CD’s and flyers quite literally scattered around Albuquerque. Logic also didn't stop him from getting signed.

The main problem with Acousmatic Sorcery lies in its production, and it often crosses the fragile line that exists in lo-fi music between raw and grating. The instrumentation used by Beal is rough and distorted, the production is fuzzy and untamed, and, probably in a bid to accentuate his story, it’s exactly the way Beal intended it to be. The link between his tough beginnings and the rough production is both too strong and too obvious though, and it stands centre stage usurping every other aspect of the album. It’s a shame, as Beal could have probably achieved the same result had he polished his product slightly and placed the emphasis on his organic vocals and minimalist instrumentation instead. Unfortunately it’s a constant which is difficult to overlook, and despite his best intentions it taints his debut release significantly.

By contrast, Beal’s voice glides through the noise and provides a constant soothing reprieve, and his warm distinctive tone always conveys a welcome conviction. His performance on second track “Take Me Away” is rugged and soulful and has its roots firmly grounded in gospel music, whilst also carrying with it a touch of the gruff Tom Waits. His most effective performance is on the beautiful “Evening’s Kiss,” and the album’s strongest song alerted many to his diverse vocal talents thanks to his serene rendition on the popular Jools Holland show, his calm demeanour and spotless delivery among his noticeable strengths. Although the pain and misery which permeates all of the songs makes Acousmatic Sorcery an underdog’s story which I’d love to root for, the lack of highlights and the almost unlistenable production does little to sell Beal as an upcoming artist, though thankfully he went some way to addressing these flaws on his very next release Nobody Knows. Acousmatic Sorcery was written by the self proclaimed “primary example as to why anybody can do anything,” but it took Beal longer to substantiate that claim than just his debut release.



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user ratings (23)
Chart.
2.9
good

Comments:Add a Comment 
VheissuCrisis
Emeritus
September 7th 2014


1385 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Reviewed almost exclusively new stuff this year, so taking some time to revisit a few slightly older albums I've wanted to write a few words about/plug a few gaps in the site.

dimsim3478
September 7th 2014


8087 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

yea this is crap but i've enjoyed everything he did afterwards

DrJohn
September 7th 2014


1041 Comments


Cool write-up. Mind pos

ScuroFantasma
Staff Reviewer
September 7th 2014


11663 Comments


Really good review man, the only thing I would change is

"it illustrates just what we're capable of if really we put our minds to something"

I would place 'we' before 'really', sounds more natural

Digging: Windswept - The Onlooker

VheissuCrisis
Emeritus
September 7th 2014


1385 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Cheers both. Good catch Scuro, will edit.

Phlegm
September 7th 2014


7243 Comments


Beal exposure!

ExplosiveOranges
September 7th 2014


4408 Comments


Not sure who this guy is, but good review, Dan.

Gyromania
September 7th 2014


26503 Comments


"By contrast Beal’s voice glides through the noise and provides a constant soothing reprieve"

i would probably put a comma after 'contrast' for the sake of flow.

anyway, excellent review here man. i guess i'll skip on this one and move to nobody knows.

VheissuCrisis
Emeritus
September 7th 2014


1385 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Thanks Gyro! Nobody Knows is a huge step up, definitely the best place to start.

dimsim3478
September 7th 2014


8087 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

i'd actually say that his the Principles of a Protagonist EP is the best place to start. it has "Swing on Low" on it, which can be pretty mindblowing especially if you're a newbie.

tommygun
September 8th 2014


26843 Comments


nice one dan dig your stuff a lot as always

album sounds totally skippable so skip it i will!

VheissuCrisis
Emeritus
September 8th 2014


1385 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Cheers Tom. Definitely skippable, you might dig his second album if you ever want to give him a try.

dimsim3478
January 20th 2015


8087 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

Alright, there is ANOTHER new album from this guy. Already. Seriously. I think you have to buy it through the mail.



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