In a sentence:
Former East India Youth man William Doyle’s latest album ‘Great Spans Of Muddy Time’ is populated exclusively by ideas executed better by other artists.
William Doyle was the man behind now-defunct East India Youth, a project that found him experimenting with a number of unique, interesting ideas. These included, and were not limited to, Bowie pastiches, Kraftwerk interpretations and a range of art-rock sounds, and saw him nominated for the Mercury Prize for its 2014 debut album Total Strife Forever. His sixth album since abandoning that alias in 2015, Doyle aims for these heights again on Great Spans Of Muddy Time, but sadly, all that emerges are dreary soundscapes and uninspiring sonics.
Take third track ‘Somewhere Totally Else’. Its attempts to break into bold new territory end up sounding like a less interesting Radiohead rip-off, complete with backwards vocal sounds. It feels like a much less experienced musician attempting to rip off whatever sound is weird enough to sound different, but not interesting enough to sound unique.
On top of that, ‘Shadowtackling’ attempts the same, but instead ripping off Aphex Twin. It’s obnoxiously loud, screeching and dreary sound design does not jump out of the speakers, but instead stews in its own mediocrity. Similarly, ‘Rainfalls’ features headache-inducing synths and boring sequences that go on too long. The ambient songs also, sadly, add nothing unique, nothing that hasn’t been made better elsewhere and just features some poor and unadventurous sound choices that I’ve ever heard on a mostly ambient record. ‘St. Giles’ Hill’s mediocre Thom Yorke impression over scattering bell sounds, and ‘Semi-bionic’s Xiu Xiu rip off, complete with distorted backing sounds, are the worst offenders. Mixes that should be immersive and transportive are instead merely long. It feels like a mess of ideas, all which have been perfected elsewhere, that meander on and on and on until they peter out and end.
This is what makes tracks like ‘Nothing At All’ and ‘And Everything Changed (But I Feel Alright)’ extremely infuriating, as they are pretty decent songs. Not great, not even that good, but very passable, and include some very beautiful moments. In fact, ‘Nothing At All’ features an incredible sequence, which sees the track arrive at stunning heights, featuring beautiful choral vocals. However, the rest of the Great Spans Of Muddy Time feels like just that. If you’re a fan of harsh ambient music, then sure, might be worth a shot, but it’s really an uneventful record that offers very little of substance. (4/10) (Harrison Kirby)
Listen to Great Spans Of Muddy Time by William Doyle here via Spotify, and tell us what you think below!
Tags: album, Great Spans Of Muddy Time, Harrison Kirby, Tough Love, William Doyle
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