The illustrious techno wunderkids Willow Beats have just dropped their new EP, ‘Alchemy’, and it has blown expectations out of the water, into space, and onto a distant planet, where aliens discover it’s bloated corpse (due to the ramifications of travelling through space without suitable equipment) and cruise to Earth for a bong party with some extraterrestrial shit. Yeah, it’s pretty great.
‘Alchemy’ is a highly different form from it’s predecessor. Whilst the first Willow Beats EP featured a distinctively trip-hop sound, filtered with some intensive dub step, ‘Alchemy’ takes a stylised stance, using glitchy, patched over vocals underneath soaring, impartial beats and taps. The opener and title track, is a highly intriguing track, mixing naive sounding female vocals with reaching keyboard riffs, synthy waves and a tripped out sample that sounds like a million bubbles bursting within milliseconds of each. It’s easy to see that Flume was an influence here.
From there, ‘Elemental’ slows things down, a Portishead kind of song, with the vocals silently draped silkily over a silently exploding electronic sound, suitably unique and natural. The warping is fundamental to the track, as lasers shoot delicately, whilst a harrowing chant haunts the overall melody of the track, and a tap drum bounces around, giving a side-swiping effect that is gloriously light-weight. After ‘Elemental’ is ‘Blue’, a very slow track that works minimalism in it’s favour, more XX than anything else. The male vocals are a nice shift at this point in the EP, with rising and falling shades of light electronica sifting the song into a nice, smooth track that pulsates quietly but confidently.
‘Incantation’ shows another shift in the EP, this time into a higher, more experimental gear. Opening with trickling sounds, and a drum beat that collapses on itself as soon as it raises its sleepy head, ‘Incantation’ is a song that prods and searches with as much confident intrigue. It’s a deeply mystical song that wades in technical prowess, incredibly interesting and rhythmically full to the brim. Last on the album is ‘Cog Goblin’, which is the only track that is not one word, or named after something incredibly soothing. As such, the track takes on a more destructive tone, or at least, as destructive as Willow Beats can allow. Shattering beats clash with an edge as sharp as Joseph Heller’s wit, with perusing sounds faltering then shuddering into life, in the most dubby track the album has to offer. It’s the kind of thing that might get played in a fantasy movie about pixies that are into dubstep, the song itself a collage of greens and blues in a dripping, dense atmosphere.
Altogether, the ‘Alchemy’ EP is a highly impressive feat of electronic music, showing off Willow Beats to be at the forefront of underground electronic music. Highly skilled and pulled off with enough prowess to warrant even the most stiff-limbed listener a head shake or two, ‘Alchemy’ is destined to be a hit with anyone who takes their hat off to chillwave. Calling it now: Willow Beats are Australia’s answer to Washed Out.
You can buy ‘Alchemy’ for a cupla bucks off Willow Beats Bandcamp, as well as see them live on Gold Fields’ upcoming national tour, playing Oxford Art Factory in Sydney Friday, 28th of June