This Tim Presley article was written by Sam Holmes, a Gigsoup contributor. Edited by John Gittins
Tim Presley’s W-X marks an interesting point in the San Fran artist’s 2015. It is not only his second release of the year, but his second album not released under his usual White Fence project following this year’s Cate Le Bon collaboration Drinks. Unlike Drinks, however, W-X is the sole creation of Tim Presley which may bode the question of why he didn’t release it under White Fence. Simply put, this is not a White Fence album.
There are certainly some White Fence moments on the LP; ‘Steer Clear’ in particular utilises the awkward sounding lo-fi guitar work synonymous with Presley’s main project. But even this track incorporates the experimental effects and electronic influence found throughout the rest of the 20 track LP. What is so impressive is how said experimentation is orchestrated. With a side project such as this one there is always a danger of going off on a whole other tangent; creating something too alienating for listeners. However, Presley has crafted an album that, whilst remaining experimental in a number of ways, remains accessible, melodic, and even catchy.
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One very noticeable aspect of the album that works in its favour are the more dance orientated moments. Tracks ‘Running from the Dogs’, ‘If Someone Heard That’ and ‘Brazilian Worm Band’ have undeniably groovy basslines that wouldn’t feel out of place in a disco. Such moments are found in other forms; ‘Desert Temple Players’ makes great use of African style drum beats, while ‘Sacri-face’ features a thumping techno kick drum; providing an unusual rhythm for the mellow, dreamy guitar and vocals that also feature. But it works, and the fact Presley has managed to experiment and be playful whilst still making memorable, catchy songs is a testament to his ability.
This playfulness is another factor that really adds to the album’s charm. Virtually all the songs include various effect-heavy guitar work with lots of delay and reverb present. However, there is never a sense of Presley trying too hard to create something different. At times it can sound messy, but never in a way that asks questions of why. Essentially it’s the result of someone having a whole lot of fun. This is never more clear than on the song ‘Copping in the Afternoon’; probably the album’s strongest track. The song begins as what should be a future hip-hop sample, before morphing into a synth led dream-pop jam of effects and sounds. The ingenuity of it can only make one smile.
This isn’t to say the album possesses these strengths throughout and so, at 20 tracks long, expect a few songs that lack the same flair and creativity in the forms of ‘Restless Leg’ and ‘Traps’ part 1 through 3. However, this should only be interpreted as a compliment to just how good some of the songs here are. Presley has created an album brimming with interesting ideas and instrumentation whilst keeping things catchy and approachable, creating one of the most imaginative and fun listens of the year.
‘W-X’ is out now via Castle Face Records.