In recent years the beauty of nature has become an increasingly popular inspiration for those in pop music looking to reconnect with the world. At the same time modern technology has inspired its own followers who exploit new and exciting opportunities with formats, instruments and algorithms.
So far, so good – but what about the everyday things, taken for granted and planted squarely and dismissively in the ‘mundane’ category? Could it be that these are our ultimate, day to day comforts – the person we see at the same time every morning, the unusually shaped hedge next door have cultivated or a particular grouping of houses that give off a friendly charm?
William Doyle – the artist formerly known as East India Youth – has first-hand experience of this deeper exploration of suburbia, and has been bold enough to dedicate Your Wilderness Revisited to that cause. Following a pair of instrumental works, the first full album under his own name is an intricate construction, a passionate piece of work rooted in intellectual thoughts yet thoroughly accessible with it. Rather like its subjects, it reveals a lot more on closer inspection. “There is no banality within your vicinity,” Doyle sings on Nobody Else Will Tell You. “There is so much to see, understand and set free.”
This song is dominated by two instruments that are crucial to the album’s success. The first is Doyle’s voice, a penetrating tone with an attractive lilt taking it towards Rufus Wainwright territory. He sings with poise and affection, responding well to the music around him but driving forward in songs like the remarkable Continuum, whose upward trajectory is matched by the saxophone.
This is the other key element of Your Wilderness Revisited. Where David Bowie exploited the instrument’s raucous side, punctuating his songs with its staccato lines, Doyle employs guests Laura Misch and Alex Painter in a more graceful approach. Misch creates beautiful colours on Continuum, while on Full Catastrophe Living Painter combines both soprano and baritone instruments in a warm-hearted and touching elegy.
The sonorous voice of Brian Eno heads Design Guide, reading texts quoted or appropriated from council design guides for housing. It opens out into an uplifting, multi-layered chorus, “free for ideas to prosper” – which they do on guitar, Doyle reining the instrument before it goes too full-on.
Doyle has contributed a substantial commentary to each of the songs on Your Wilderness Revisited, illustrating how music can act both as comforter and pure inspiration. These elements combine in the keen optimism of An Orchestral Depth (featuring a sample of Doyle’s hero, the droll documentary film-maker and writer Jonathan Meades) and Blue Remembered. Both grip the listener and refuse to let go, growing inexorably in Doyle’s hands.
There are many layers to Your Wilderness Revisited, and all are united with the one goal of turning life experiences into wholly positive means. It is a celebratory record, a special piece of work with deeply thought sentiments that leave a mark on its audience from the first listen to the most recent. The rich orchestrations celebrate the world around us, discovering it to be far more colourful and expressive than we could have dared expect.