WPGM Recommends: Slime – Company (Album Review)

Slime, a.k.a Newcastle’s multi-instrumentalist Will Archer, has recently dropped his debut album Company via the Weird World imprint of Columbia Records. Archer’s musical journey began when he experienced the mechanical noises produced by the coffee factory that his father ran, its rhythms and sounds driving him to learn the drums at an early age. His first release Increases came after he moved to London aged 18 to study for a degree in sound design and it began a chain of recordings and work which have culminated in Company.

Apparently, the album was made in isolation in a tiny windowless studio in East London and was whittled down to its current length of 10 tracks from a selection of almost 400. A staggering fact, meaning the music that graduated to the record was deemed to have lain in the top 2.5% of Archer’s repertoire. This shows as Company is a fantastic debut record from a producer who probably deserves more attention than he is getting. The album features clean and precise production that manages to extract a warm soulfulness from Archer’s otherworldly sounds.

He has certainly not forgotten what he learnt during his degree and has created a brooding and personal collection of tracks that feel like they could score a film. Perhaps his own intimate documentary. Archer’s LP has echoes of familiarity to it most likely due to the fact that in the past, he has worked with the likes of Jessie Ware, George Maple and Vondelpark, the latter forming the most obvious comparison. The album was also mixed by Dilip Harris who has previously worked with Mount Kimbie and Micachu.

The album’s opening “Thurible” introduces the record with an industrial and atmospheric soundscape that has sprinklings of crackles and pops dusting it. During the track, Archer’s penchant for forlorn wind instruments and airy vocals is laid out. There are also hints at the wide range of textures and layers, both electronic and real, he can manipulate to create a dense and rich sound. This is continued in the next cut “Striding Edge” which starts with gritty synths and choppy vocals breaking into a guitar orientated slow jam, all of which is rooted to a minimal 4/4 beat.

Positioned in third place “Hot Dog” is a languid piece of ethereal R&B. Big, lush chords create an excellent bed for the rest of the instrumentation to sit on, especially the razor sharp guitar licks that come in about two thirds of the way through. The vocals are reminiscent of Jessie Ware but are used in a way that sounds fresh rather than hackneyed. In general, vocals are used sparingly across a largely instrumental album. However, when they do emerge, they are enchanting, as is the case with “Symptoms” where the vocals float alongside delicate muted guitar. Also on “At Sea Again” Selah Sue lends her versatile voice to a track that has astonishing depth.

The previously released “My Company” has the most cinematic feel of any of the cuts on the album. Once more Archer deploys an abrasive synth that swells out of a bubbling opening to provide a dark contrast to the chanting vocals, crisp percussion and glistening keys that twinkle away throughout the track. Archer’s complexity shines through on “In One Year” where a moody jazz intro builds into another lugubrious slow jam. The wailing sax that rises up in front of everything demands attention with its captivating, noir tone. This track contains an incredible amount of elements but nonetheless, Archer manages to keep everything in cohesion and shows real flair at song development and structure. The beautifully arranged strings on “In One Year” also feature in other tracks, most noticeably in “Down And Tell” where they demonstrate a knack for crafting emotionally rich melodies.

The Way Of Asprilla” has the most live sound on the album and is also one of the most abstract tracks through its use of incongruous elements. Warped vocals fly about on top of a bassline that is on the verge of conflicting with the rest of the instruments. However, Archer provides some relief near the end when an unexpectedly fragile voice emerges out of the mix.

Patricia’s Stories” is a standalone moment on the album. It delves into the world of abstract, experimental Hip Hop and features the recumbent raps of Jeremiah Jae. The ghostly piano that is introduced in the breakdown reminds one of the sounds of James Blake – in fact the track is much akin to the collaboration with RZA on Overgrown. This beat proves Archer skill as a multi-genre producer who has more than one string to his bow. However, though this track adds variety to the album, it feels a little disparate from the rest of the record.

Company combines alien soundscapes, stripped-back beats, Jazz, Hip Hop and dreamy R&B to form a dark, electronic ooze that lacquers the inside of your ear. It is an album that revels in a deep sense of melancholy, yet refreshingly, never becomes bogged down or stagnant. It feels like a distillation of Archer’s thoughts and moods given musical form, undiluted by interference from others; an artefact of his isolation.

Some listeners may think Archer’s music lacks originality due to the fact that it bears resemblance to other artists’ work. Nevertheless, Archer’s uniqueness lies in the way he combines and layers different sounds and influences to portray distinct atmospheres and evoke vivid emotions. Purchase Company on iTunes here or via Weird World here and get tickets to see Slime perform live on September 2 at the Courtyard Theatre in London here.

Words by Nick Bimson

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