The psychedelic pop explorer Vinyl Williams has a wide range of interests outside of music -- Egyptian BioGeometry and Russellian science, to name two -- that inform his dream-like, happily woozy songs and quietly epic albums.
Often created by Williams alone using experimental methods of recording, his releases -- especially 2018's Opal, which was partly recorded on handheld cassette recorder and VHS camcorder -- maintained a steady course into the musical cosmos that saw the artist snapping up pieces of shoegaze, dream pop, soft rock, ambient music, and sunshine pop as he drifted past.
Born Lionel Williams, the multi-media artist is the grandson of renowned film composer John Williams and son of Air Supply drummer Mark Towner Williams, After a time spent disavowing music as a creative outlet, he began playing drums at the age of ten and soon wrote his first song. After a decade spent in Utah, where Air Supply made their home base, Williams escaped his strict religious setting and moved back to his birth place of Los Angeles, where he enrolled in CalArts to study visual arts. He switched his main focus to music though, and in the spring of 2010 began working on what became his debut album, playing all of the instruments himself while building atmospheric and dream-like textures through multi-tracking. Lemniscate was released in 2012 by No Pain in Pop and Williams put together a live band to tour behind the record. While touring in Seoul, South Korea, Williams met up with Toro y Moi's Chaz Bear and the two soon decided to collaborate, with 2014's improvised ambient work Trance Zen Dental Spa being the result. Bear signed Vinyl Williams to his Company Records label and released the space rock- and shoegaze-influenced Into during July of 2015.
Trying something different, Williams' next album was recorded by Bear at his Berkley studio over a month's time and featured guitar work by Ian Gibbs of Williams' live band, with additional vocals and synth by Medicine's Brad Laner. Released in August of 2016, Brunei reflected Williams' childhood fascination with that country's currency and his hopes for a more harmonious future. At the same time he was making music, Williams also stayed busy designing video games and directing videos, using his lo-fi, deconstructed style to bring songs by Tears for Fears, Medicine, Unknown Mortal Orchestra and others to life. When it came time to make another record, Williams used video technology in the process. Working at his studio in the Non Plus Ultra artspace he founded in L.A., basic tracks were recorded on a VHS camcorder, then, after guitar parts recorded on a handheld cassette recorder were added, the camcorder mixes were added underneath digital mixes to get a wobbly, underwater sound. Williams handled all the instrumental chores himself, save some hand drums played by Yonatan Gat's Gal Lazer and guitar and synth added by Ian Gibbs. The resulting album, the cosmically relaxed Opal, was released in July of 2018 by the French label Requiem Pour un Twister. After two years -- possibly spent in a floatation tank -- Williams returned with Azure, a sub-aquatic sounding album that delved deeply into soft textures and featured some of the poppiest songs of his career. ~ Jason Lymangrover & Tim Sendra, Rovi