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Sweet Williams
Where Does the Time Come From Johny Lamb , September 17th, 2019 08:16

Ex-Charlottefield, Joey Fat, Haress guitarist Thomas House strikes out solo(ish) with Sweet Williams. The results are visceral and engrossing, finds Johny Lamb

Gringo Records present Where Does the Time Come From, the new record by Sweet Williams, the post-punk solo(ish) project from guitarist Thomas House. Now, it’s rare that I know I’m going to love a record from literally the first chord. But here, the moment the first down-stroke of the guitar and the first abrasive thwacks of the drums skins sound on ‘Stop it I’m Killing You’, I instantly say to myself, ‘yep’, and that feeling never goes away.

How delightful too that it’s a further forty seven seconds before that chord significantly changes. I’m a sucker for staying on a chord for as long as possible. Perhaps a remnant of a teenage love of Six By Seven’s brittle drone rock. I should say that Sweet Williams have already softened me up. I was a big fan of House’s old band Charlottefield and their set on a bill with Frightened Rabbit, Twilight Sad, and the majestically fucked up Rank Deluxe is still a gig-going highlight for me, some several years later.

House is keen to point out that the album doesn’t “represent a performance”, but rather an idealised version of how he imagines the songs should be. That said, it is a testament to Ben Hampson’s production that there is a startling liveness to the sound. It pulls off that difficult trick of seeming untouched by the interference of production whilst being tightly controlled and purposeful. It is beautifully recorded. We are always in close proximity to the playing of instruments. This is a visceral fact. It takes listening to a record to become mindful of how rare that really is these days. It’s also surprising how much of the lyricism is audible when the voice is so often mixed relatively low. Skilful stuff.

Over the course of the album we are treated to wonky time signatures, gnarly bass lines and cyclical riffs (brilliantly evidenced on ‘Very Long Division’). The whole record simmers with menace and a potential violence that never quite allows itself to fully erupt (though it gets close). Something Lapsus Linguae could do so well when at their best. It feels, at all times, like work that knows exactly what it is, and what it needs to do. It’s also nice to hear a slow fade well executed on ‘Ride a Gold Snail’.

This project smacks of experience. House clearly knows his field well, and can judge the application of harmony and dissonance with eager expertise. His time playing in bands (including Joeyfat and Haress as well as Charlottefield) has given him the knowledge and skillset to brush up against something close to real brilliance. The songs have no fat at all. They are the leanest and most concise they could be without risking collapse. The themes are not altogether surprising for the type of music we are hearing, but the writing is playful and gives little in the way of coherent narrative. The listener must piece together fragments and images, and arresting one-liners. “That’s when they disappear your house” being a personal favourite. The press release describes it as ‘impressionistic’ which seems pretty fair. Threatening, restrained, tasteful, and completely engrossing. Please do listen.