There are times when you come across artists that send you into a tailspin. The kind of turbulence where it’s hard to part with the right kind of words or sentiment. You know what you want to say but so tongue-tied and hypnotised by the sounds, it’s almost impossible to find the right tone.
Engaging with the music of London-based artist, William Patrick Owen, is a bit like that. I’ve spent a good six weeks trying to unravel the cryptic messages and sweeping soundscapes that comprise of his latest LP, Dreams on the Moon – the artist’s second album, which follows his 2017 debut, First Person Singular.
Some things are better left unsaid, and to use another boring chestnut, actions speak louder than words. So while will try and paint a picture with the following, you may be better off to just go and listen.
With similar sketches of those conjured up by experimental alumni such as Julianna Barwick, Ekin Fil and Liz Harris, the opening title track splits the dark clouds with pulsating drones and heartfelt chants that one could envision being parted from the bottom of a canyon. This lineage follows later on with Flash of Light, Lucidity and Whale in a Truck.
With an undulating bass thrum, the multi-layered meander of True Colours and the natural charm of Time Runs Away sees Owen in a more conventional sense. His voice, an unusual elastic representation of Michael Stipe. The streamlined methods enveloped much of First Person Singular, but here the songs are a lot stronger from an artist who is growing into his voice.
And that artistic voice continues to flourish on the 16 minute epic, Land of Cracks and later with Lilac Moon – off-kilter medieval journeys where Owen reaches for ’70s-inspired experimental folk, bending it into new fresh new sounds and oblique shapes.
Taking its cue from Land of Cracks, penultimate track, Shadow, is like a mini-folk epic which ties together all the ideas Owen puts down on tape with Dreams on the Moon. It would be a fitting closer, however this is where Yellow Leaves comes in. A stripped back elegy with Owen sharing one final wave of poignant strength. A fitting end indeed.
Dreams on the Moon is long journey, but not once does it outstay its welcome. It’s a proper album in that sense, and while we live in a world of immediacy and sound bites, this may impact on Owen’s capability to break the fourth wall and reach new ears.
In saying that, it’s the kind of record that doesn’t need to. Dreams on the Moon is one of those albums made for the true engagers. The heads. And for those inhabited in this weird and wonderful world, Dreams on the Moon is your next favourite album and, by extension, William Patrick Owen your next favourite artist.
Dreams on the Moon is out now. Purchase here.