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Making an impact with music through the use of increased volume and sudden, sharp sonic moves isn’t the hardest thing in the world to do. Drawing the listener in through subtler and suppler means is a much finer art. But it is an art that Will Lawton and the Alchemists demonstrate to perfection on their latest EP, appropriately entitled Alchemy.
An eclectic band that draws on all genres, from the grace of the classical world to the mathematics of jazz, from the drifts of folk to the ornateness and complex structures of the progressive world, Will’s piano leads his musical gang through some gorgeous and glorious sonic pastures.
And, as opener “Daughter” proves, they are not a band to be hurried. Eight minutes of slow-burning and drifting music from delicate ambiance to busy jazz beats help lay out a fantastic musical stall.
The current single, “Black Bricks”, appears in a slightly edited version, a more immediately engaging song built of hypnotic music spirals and clever time signatures. But for all its deft arrangements and irregular structures, it makes for an obvious release, bridging the gap between pop and a smart place in the same way bands like Pink Floyd and Mostly Autumn excelled. The latter a criminally-overlooked band but perhaps the perfect reference point for what is happening here.
“Cast Iron”, which rounds things off, is the sound of the band opening up and showcasing the musicianship here. Will’s piano and dulcet tones remain at the heart of any song. Buddy Fonzarelli and Weasel Howlett’s respective bass and drums can always weave a beguiling, adventurous, and melodic backbeat. But now the spotlight also falls on the additional and more exotic rhythms created by Harki Popli’s tabla playing and Amy Kaelyn’s ethereal vocals. There is also room for some unashamed rock guitar lines adding weight and weft to the proceedings, courtesy of Neil Muttock.
Although the band has been around a while now, slowly growing in number and musically evolving into the full band that stands before us today, their time may have truly arrived. Alchemy is that rarest of things, an album forged of astute musicianship, grand visions, and untethered aspirations yet appealing to the discerning pop picker and mainstream music consumer.
It’s a fine line to walk, but Will Lawton and the Alchemist are among the most sure-footed bands you will ever meet.
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